Aboard the battleship Iowa in San Pedro and below the hot Southern California sun Monday afternoon, local and federal officials congratulated each other on efforts made that ended labor disputes between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) this past February.
“I learned personally that the ripple effect from the port situation earlier this year certainly rippled across the country,” said Labor Secretary Thomas Perez. “It went far beyond the shores of the pacific.”
According to Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro), co-chair of the Congressional Ports Caucus, she saw caucus members—some of whom didn't have ports in their districts—frequently asking on the progress on the port disputes that caused backlogs and congestion.
Leaders also shared their excitement for collaborative efforts for the twin ports, and their hopes to create a more efficient, state-of-the-art, green complex to remain competitive.
“While we are competitive, we do share the same air. We share the same roads. We share the same rail. We share the same partners. And while two separate ports, they’re really part of one complex,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. “So we are committed 100 percent as part of this historic agreement to move forward to invest in infrastructure."
One out of every eight jobs in Long Beach somehow are related to trade. One in every 12 in Los Angeles relates to goods movement and port trade, noted Garcia.
“Forty percent of the nation’s cargo go through Long Beach and Los Angeles in some way and so the impact is enormous,” Garcia added.
“This agreement enables Los Angeles and Long Beach to invest in the future together,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “To adapt to the changes that we’re seeing in the shipping industry."
Port of Los Angeles officials announced Monday that a two-year project to improve a marine container terminal will begin this summer. The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners also awarded a construction company with a $44.6 million contract to upgrade berths, and backlands, according to a press release.
Long Beach is also seeing continued construction efforts of the Gerald Desmond Bridge.
The new bridge will have a clearance of 205 feet, where the old bridge has a clearance of 155 feet. This expansion will help "accommodate the newest generation of cargo ships," according to the Gerald Desmond Bridge Replacement Project's statement.
While both cities are collaborating on improving the ports, Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), noted that the region needed to see upgrades in infrastructure throughout the country as well.
"The real problem is the nation has not invested in its infrastructure and we gotta get goods from the ports to those distribution centers, to the rest of the nation,” Lowenthal said.