Port Of Long Beach Office Workers Threaten Strike

9:45am | Employees at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles adopted a strike resolution last evening as they could not reach a contract agreement with shipping companies at the ports. The decision does not mean the workers will strike.

The Office Clerical Unit of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 63 represents office and clerical workers, but not longshoremen.

The employees were unable to agree on a contract with shipping companies that would have allowed layoffs without notice. "The number one issue is job security," said union president John Fageaux in a video filmed by 562CityLife.com. Fageaux expressed concerns about possible outsourcing of local jobs, as well as reductions in sick days, holidays, and healthcare coverage.

"We're going to have to take it to the docks," said Fageaux. "That's the only choice we have at this point."

Press-Telegram reporter Kris Hanson writes today that representatives of the shipping companies argue that the employees are well-paid and receive excellent healthcare, calling them "the best-paid clerical workers in America." Hanson also writes:

Employers plan to meet with union negotiators today to avoid a walkout, which could disrupt - but not shut down - operations at America's largest port complex.

Both sides likely want to avoid a strike, especially in a weak economy where jobs are hard to come by and the shipping industry is fragile. But will they strike? Fageaux says the employees are ready to do so.

"Absent of any agreement, we're going to be prepared to take economic action on the docks tomorrow night," he said in the video.

More to come...

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