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West Coast port

Labor Secretary to Help Resolve West Coast Ports Dispute

Feb. 15, 2015
Honda on Sunday said it would slow production in manufacturing plants in Canada and the U.S. due to part shortages caused by slowdowns at the West Coast ports, according to Reuters.

Can the U.S. federal government help resolve an ongoing labor dispute at 29 West Coast ports that is wreaking havoc with the supply chains of manufacturers, retailers and farmers?

It's going to try.

The White House on Saturday announced that Labor Secretary Thomas Perez would meet with the two parties to the West Coast port dispute "to urge them to resolve differences at the bargaining table," according to Eric Shultz, principal deputy White House press secretary.

The parties are the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

The consequences of the labor dispute between dockworkers and the operators of the port terminals and shipping lines have played out for months up and down the West Coast, as well as much further afield. On Saturday, for example, 32 ships were anchored outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach "unable to unload thousands of cargo containers filled with auto parts, electronics and clothes," reported the Los Angeles Times.

The dispute between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union dates back to May 2014, when negotiations on a new contract commenced. Dockworkers have been working without a contract since July.

Since then, both parties have laid blame on each other for the ports congestion, slowdowns and work stoppages.

On Feb. 12, lawmakers held a bipartisan press conference calling for swift conclusion by the PMA and ILWU to contract negotiations. "If they refuse to do so, I urge the president of the United States to use his powers, afforded by him and for him, under Taft-Hartley to end this dispute once and for all," said U.S. Congressman Kurt Schrader.

About the Author

Jill Jusko

Bio: Jill Jusko is executive editor for IndustryWeek. She has been writing about manufacturing operations leadership for more than 20 years. Her coverage spotlights companies that are in pursuit of world-class results in quality, productivity, cost and other benchmarks by implementing the latest continuous improvement and lean/Six-Sigma strategies. Jill also coordinates IndustryWeek’s Best Plants Awards Program, which annually salutes the leading manufacturing facilities in North America.

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