LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The parties involved in a three-day strike that has crippled activity at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach agreed to resume talks this evening, a source close to the talks told City News Service.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa personally spoke to representatives from labor and negotiators for the shipping companies earlier today from Brazil, where he is on a trade mission, and urged both sides to go back to the table.
About 800 clerical workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have been without a contract since June 30, 2010. Several dozen workers walked off the job Tuesday at the Port of L.A.'s busiest terminal, and the strike grew dramatically Wednesday to encompass all but one of the port's terminals and three at the Port of Long Beach.
About 500 International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 Office Clerical Unit workers and thousands of longshoremen also represented by the ILWU were honoring the picket lines today, bringing container cargo movement to a stop.
Port of L.A. Director Geraldine Knatz warned that the strike had already started to divert shipping traffic to other ports, including in Mexico.
"This dispute has impacted not only our port work force but all stakeholders who ship goods through our complex and potentially the hundreds of thousands of jobs that are directly and indirectly related to port operations," Knatz said. "In today's shipping environment, we can't afford to lose cargo or our competitive advantage."
Earlier today, the National Retail Federation called for President Barack Obama to step in to end the stalemate in contract negotiations.
"A prolonged strike at the nation's largest ports would have a devastating impact on the U.S. economy," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay wrote in a letter to Obama. "We call upon you to use all means necessary to get the two sides back to the negotiating table."
A 10-day lockout at the ports in 2002 led to significant retail supply chain disruptions, which took six months to recover from and cost the economy an estimated $1 billion a day, according to the Retail Federation.
"An extended strike ... this time could have a greater impact considering the fragile state of the U.S. economy," Shay wrote.