L.A./Long Beach Ports Reopen After Crippling Strike

Byline: Associated Press/John Rogers

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Work resumed Dec. 5 at Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors after settlement of a strike that crippled America’s busiest container port complex for more than a week.

Gates at 10 closed terminals reopened, and dockworkers were ready to resume loading and unloading at least 13 cargo ships that were stuck for days at docks or in the harbors, Los Angeles port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said.

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

Negotiators reached a tentative agreement to end the strike late Dec. 4, less than two hours after federal mediators arrived from Washington, D.C. A statement from the workers’ union said it had won new protections preventing jobs from being outsourced.

Port officials estimated that roughly $760 million worth of cargo a day was failing to move through the ports during the walkout. Some 20 ships diverted to other ports in California and Mexico while others scheduled to reach Southern California simply didn’t sail.

Even though the deal was reached soon after their arrival, the federal mediators said they had little to do with the solution.

“In the final analysis, it worked. The parties reached their own agreement,” said George Cohen, director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. “There is no question in my mind that collective bargaining is the best example of industrial democracy in action.”

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who had been calling for the two sides to reach a deal for days, said he was pleased by the resolution.

“I think it’s appropriate to say ‘mission accomplished,”’ he said.

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