February 21, 2020

West Coast Ports- “Normality not yet on Horizon,” LA Times

A tentative agreement on the West Coast port dispute was reached on Friday, while articles on Saturday cautioned, “that the new contract won’t immediately resolve the delays.” Some lawmakers also weighed in on the developments expressing relief and a need for quick implementation of the agreement. A recap of news from Friday and Saturday can be found here at

The cautionary tone was amplified in an article by Tiffany Hsu, Andrew Khouri and Peter Jamison on the front page of Sunday’s Los Angeles Times titled, “Despite West Coast ports’ labor deal, normality not yet on horizon.” The writers indicated that, “West Coast ports are emerging from the most contentious labor dispute in more than a decade, but lingering resentment and structural problems may complicate a return to normality.

Activity picked up Saturday at Western harbors after the dockworkers union and employers reached a tentative agreement late Friday on a new five-year contract that will cover 20,000 workers at 29 ports.”

The article added that, “‘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.'”

“Trade experts said that it could be months before ports were operating at their normal pace,” the article said; adding that, “Even before the union was accused of slowing operations in November, the ports had struggled with delays for months, experts said.

“A truck trailer shortage and the increased reliance on massive container vessels contributed to the worst freight backlog in a decade at the San Pedro ports. At the Los Angeles port, a single ship now often carries 14,000 containers. Two years ago, a large ship would have held 8,000 to 10,000 of the steel boxes.”

Laura Stevens reported on Sunday at The Wall Street Journal Online that, “West Coast ports are finally working at full speed again, but it will likely take months for the backlog to clear, port officials and logistics experts said.”

The Journal article noted that, “‘Just based on the mathematics, it will be about three months before we return to a sense of normalcy,’ said Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles.”

Also, Marianne Levine reported on Saturday at Politico that, “Labor Secretary Tom Perez said Saturday that in bringing resolution to a tense labor-management dispute at the West Coast ports he never said President Barack Obama might impose a solution unilaterally.

“‘What I did tell them is they have no time, they have to move forward [and] they’re playing with fire,’ Perez said in an interview with POLITICO.”

The article added that, “Perez said the White House came into the negotiation neutrally and did not have a specific proposal in mind. However, he said the White House was not neutral over the time line to reach a solution.”


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