I’ve been reporting since September on the potentially catastrophic port strike in the works, and have been tracking the Occupy-supported and manufactured chaos at our ports for the past year.
Things are about to come to a head.
On the West Coast:
The Port of Portland (Oregon) is bracing for a strike by longshore workers on Nov. 25 “that would tie up millions of dollars worth of freight at three terminals.”
Representatives of the Port and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union say the strike could still be averted. But Port officials believe cargo ships may begin bypassing Portland because of the uncertainty created by the failure of last-ditch contract talks Friday.
Separately, owners of Northwest terminals handling a quarter of the nation’s grain exports said Friday they’d presented a final offer to the longshore union. Failure of those talks could lead to a strike or lockout at six grain terminals in Portland, Vancouver and the Puget Sound.
The simultaneous actions are the most extreme developments in months of labor turmoil at the Port, where yet another dispute involving the same union led ships to bypass Portland last summer, clogging cargo and slowing Oregon’s economy. Closure of the three Port terminals, let alone a crisis at the grain elevators, would wreak far greater economic havoc and could cause container shipping lines to pull out for good…
Coincidental breakdown of the security officer talks and the grain negotiations could close a total of seven Portland-area terminals, although the grain elevator owners plan to hire substitute workers — or scabs, in union parlance. In addition, last summer’s separate container terminal dispute is boiling over in the courtroom, as a federal judge ponders whether to find the union in contempt and stop it from allegedly coercing shipping lines.
Port of Portland managers won’t say whether they would bring in workers to replace striking security guards and their fellow longshore union members at terminals 2, 4 and 6. But Port officials are about to contact shipping lines with vessels heading toward Portland and warn them of the problems.
In Oakland, Calif., a strike is planned next Monday and Tuesday. SEIU is leading the way:
Port of Oakland workers who say they have gone 16 months without a new contract plan to go on strike Monday and Tuesday in Oakland. The Service Employees International Union Local 1021 has announced plans for a 24-hour strike starting at 9 p.m. Monday.
On the East Coast and Gulf Coast, companies are re-routing their shipments in anticipation of a long-threatened walkout.
Negotiators had been silent for the past few months, but the ILA is now flexing its muscle publicly: