Talks between clerical workers and management at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach once again stalled as voting members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union's Local 63 Office Clerical Unit (OCU) rejected a proposed new contract on Wednesday night. According to the Harbor Employers Association (HEA), which represents management, bargaining units for workers at all 16 harbor employers failed to ratify the agreement.
The two sides had tentatively agreed to the labor contract in December, ending an eight-day strike that had shut down most terminals at the nation's two busiest seaports.
It is currently not clear what step the union or management will take next. The National Retail Federation (NRF), the world's largest retail trade association, urged the two sides to continue to keep the ports open despite the rejection of the contract. "We can't afford to see another shutdown," said NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold in a statement issued today. "As labor and management work to resolve this situation, uninterrupted operation of the ports should be their top priority. Too many jobs across the country depend on these ports to let any interference with operations be considered an acceptable way of doing business."
The sticking point for previous negotiations had been accusations by the 800-member clerical workers' union that the HEA was outsourcing jobs. The management association denied those claims.