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Port of Seattle cargo operations continue after disruption amid labor negotiations

The disruption comes after similar work slowdowns at the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland last week.

SEATTLE — The labor relations group representing maritime businesses said cargo operations at the Port of Seattle were “shut down” Saturday amid contract negotiations with the West Coast dockworkers union.

The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), representing more than 70 businesses and ocean carriers, said "disruptive work actions" by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) brought ground operations at marine terminals to a halt late Friday and Saturday. 

PMA claims ILWU refused to dispatch any longshore workers to container terminals on Saturday leading to the effective "shutdown." ILWU said workers were dispatched to work Sunday.

The disruption comes after similar work slowdowns at the Ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland last week. PMA said Friday that operations have improved at the ports in California, however, the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma continue to see "significant slowdowns."

The previous agreement between PMA and ILWU expired on July 1, 2022, and the new negotiations began May 10, 2022. The collective bargaining agreement covers more than 22,000 longshore workers at 29 West Coast ports.

In a statement made June 2, ILWU said PMA members made $510 billion in profits during the pandemic and have posted revenues "that far exceed" pre-pandemic levels even as shipping volumes return to normal.

“We are getting there but it’s important to understand that West Coast dockworkers kept the economy going during the pandemic and lost their lives doing so. We aren’t going to settle for an economic package that doesn’t recognize the heroic efforts and personal sacrifices of the ILWU workforce that lifted the shipping industry to record profits," International President Willie Adams said.

Northwest Seaport Alliance, the marine cargo operating partnership between the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, said in a statement to KING 5 that it hopes for a "conclusion of contract negotiations that support the working men and women of the waterfront while maintaining efficient operations of the supply chain."

The alliance said it is tracking operations closely and remains in contact with terminal operators, labor, cargo owners, and other supply chain stakeholders.

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