The dockworkers union and employers reached a tentative agreement late Friday. An ongoing contract dispute has impacted 29 West Coast ports, contributing to an extended slowdown which has stranded cargo, including perishable agricultural exports. The slowdown has impacted businesses at all scales, from international corporations to small business owners. With backlogs to clear, it could take months for ports to operate at normal capacity.
President Barack Obama dispatched Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to help resolve the issue, and that seemed to help. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also entered the talks, and warned of emerging competition from ports in foreign countries if the issues could not be resolved.
Tiffany Hsu (@tiffhsulatimes), Andrew Khouri (@khouriandrew), Peter Jamison (@petejamison), and Chris Kirkham (@c_kirkham) have put together an important piece about the dispute for the Los Angeles Times:
“I think the parties have an understanding of the impact of this disruption,” U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez said in an interview. “They understand that they not only have to restore service, they have to restore confidence.”
The negative public perception of the labor dispute also led the two sides to seek resolution.
“Disruptions like the one we saw out West have the potential to throw the country’s farm economy into disarray,” Wade Cowan, president of the trade group, said in a statement. “A devastating impact like that isn’t a bargaining chip.”
The dispute also highlighted structural challenges facing West Coast ports.