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LA, Long Beach Port workers back on the job after 8-day strike

December 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
The roar and rumble of commerce is back at one of the busiest ports in the country. Striking workers are back on the job after an eight-day strike at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The strike may have gone on for eight days but the negotiations between the union workers and shipping companies have been going on for two years.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and federal mediators made the announcement late Tuesday night. Not many details surrounding the deal have been released, but it is known that the main issue at hand was not money.

Job security was the big sticking point for union members, who wanted to make sure that when somebody retired locally, the job would be replaced locally and not outsourced. Money wasn't the main focus since workers on average make $84,000 annually with a generous benefits package.

The 800 members of the clerical union walked off the job Nov. 27 and other unions honored the picket line, effectively shutting down the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Each day of the strike cost the local economy hundreds of millions.

"We lost about 20 ships that were diverted to other countries or other ports. This cost the port of Los Angeles, ourselves, in terms of lost revenue, nearly $1 million a day in our own lost revenue," said Geraldine Katz, the executive director of the Port of Los Angeles.

Other union members who honored the picket line are glad to see that both sides reached a deal.

"The struggle our brothers and sisters down the street had, we thought it was important to stand up for that. There are some things that needed to be taken care of through this and I think they were accomplished," said Michael Podue, the president of the Longshore and Warehouse Union.

The ports are back in business just in time for the holiday rush of ships loaded down with cargo for store shelves.

Rank and file union members still need to sign off on the agreement, which is not expected to be a problem. The new contact will run through 2016.


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