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Port strike costs rising in S. California

Dec. 1, 2012 at 11:48 AM   |   Comments

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Seaport authorities in Southern California said 11 cargo ships snubbed by striking clerical workers set sail for competing ports Thursday and Friday.

The Marine Exchange of Southern California said the ships are headed to Oakland, Calif., Mexico and the Panama Canal to have cargoes unloaded, the Los Angeles Times reported Saturday. The clerical workers' strike is estimated to cost $1 billion per day, including lost wages for truck drivers and longshoremen and lost profits for retailers.

The union group on strike includes 800 clerical workers who handle the paperwork at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif.

Despite the losses, the strikers have support from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63, which has 10,000 members who are not crossing picket lines.

In addition to the ships that gave up on the two local ports, several ships are stuck in those ports awaiting a resolution to the strike.

With losses mounting, pressure is building to have the strike resolved. "A quick resolution is critical to maintaining our status as the country's premiere gateway for trans-Pacific trade," said Port of Long Beach Executive Director J. Christopher Lytle.

One ship can carry the equivalent of roughly five warehouses worth of goods. That means the 11 ships that sailed for other ports Thursday and Friday have taken with them the business interests of 55 warehouses, the truck drivers it would take to fill those warehouses plus sales at area gas stations, among other incidental factors.

"Any time an action reduces the reliability of the ports to be able to move goods into and out of the United States, they reduce the competitiveness of the region and help make the argument that Southern California's competitors make to move trade and jobs to them," said economist John Husing, founder of the consulting firm Economics & Politics Inc.

Seaport managers said they offered the clerical workers an annual compensation package worth $195,000 by 2016, up from the current wage and benefit package worth $165,000. But the offer was turned down Monday, leading to the strike.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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