Longshoremen Locked Out on W. Coast
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ The association representing shipping lines locked out longshoremen at all West Coast ports until Sunday morning as part of what it called a ``cooling-off period″ in contract negotiations.
The announcement Friday came after the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents shipping lines and terminal operators, accused the longshoremen’s union of slowing down the pace of work as a tactic to gain leverage in the increasingly acrimonious talks.
The Pacific Maritime Association board met Friday morning and agreed on the lockout, according to president Joseph Miniace. The lockout was scheduled to begin at 9 p.m. EDT.
He called it ``a very, very tough decision,″ but one that the association had to make because the union was bargaining in bad faith.
``It’s the very last thing we wanted to do. But the union forced us into this,″ Miniace said.
A union spokesman said the association was acting unilaterally and that union neogtiators wanted to keep talking. The union learned of the lockout Friday morning when the two sids met for talks, spokesman Jeremy Prillwitz.
The two sides have been bargaining over a new contract for months, but talks have steadily deteriorated.
On Thursday, the union issued a directive earlier telling the 10,500 workers it represents at all 29 major Pacific ports to work in strict accordance with all safety and health rules.
The association said that evening that longshoremen were slowing the pace of work at ports in Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, Ore., Seattle and Tacoma, Wash.
The disruption could deal an immediate blow to the U.S. economy and stanch the flow of products from Asia just as importers are rushing to distribute goods for the holiday season.