The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

December 5, 2012

LA ports reopen after crippling 8-day strike ends

LOS ANGELES —  Work resumed Wednesday at the nation’s busiest port complex after a crippling strike was settled, ending an eight-day walk-off that affected thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in cargo.

Gates at the Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors reopened, and dockworkers were ready to resume loading and unloading ships that had been stuck for days, Los Angeles port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said.

“It’s going to take a few days, maybe a week or two to get back to normal,” Long Beach port spokesman Art Wong said.

Dozens of ships were stuck idle at the complex or delayed on their way in, officials said. Auto parts, retail merchandise for January sales and repair parts for Redbox video kiosks were among the items that could be late in getting to their destinations around the country, Wong said.

Television reports showed huge cargo vessels moving into port, and a line of trucks waiting to enter a terminal.

Clerical workers who said that shippers were outsourcing their jobs struck on Nov. 27 and thousands of dockworkers in the same union refused to cross picket lines, paralyzing much of the port complex that handles 44 percent of all container cargo that arrives by sea nationwide, including items such as cars from Japan and computers from China.

Negotiators reached a tentative agreement to end the strike late Tuesday, two hours after federal mediators arrived from Washington, D.C.

The union said the proposed contract between clerical workers and 14 shipping terminal operators contained new protections against outsourcing of their well-paid jobs out of state and overseas. Clerical workers are expected to ratify the deal in the next week or two.

The key provision prohibits companies from cutting the local workforce by more than 14 positions through the June 2016 life of the contract. Companies also must fill vacant positions when workers are absent for vacations or other reasons, although in certain cases they can wait about a month.

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