- The Washington Times - Monday, September 30, 2002

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) A frail labor peace between shipping lines and West Coast longshoremen collapsed yesterday when workers were ordered off their jobs indefinitely.
The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents the shipping lines, said it would bar workers from the docks until the union agrees to extend a lapsed contract while talks toward a new agreement continue.
West Coast ports handled more than $300 billion in cargo over the past year. Continued labor unrest could cost the U.S. economy an estimated $1 billion a day.
"They're just doing whatever they're doing," said Steve Stallone, a spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
Association President Joseph Miniace called yesterday's action a "defensive shutdown" that came less than 12 hours after longshoremen returned to the docks at the 29 major Pacific ports.
Shipping lines imposed a lockout Friday immediately after talks collapsed. That lockout was lifted, then reimposed after the association accused the union of understaffing operations and dispatching unskilled workers.
Shipping lines said productivity fell "off the cliff" yesterday.
"It's like a plumber showing up to roof your house," said Bill Niland, a manager for the association's San Francisco area. "Aside from the production issue, there are certainly safety issues."
Added Mr. Miniace: "I will not pay workers to strike."

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