West Coast port action by PMA ends today

West Coast port action by PMA ends today

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The interruption of some port activity by the Pacific Maritime Association, representing West Coast terminal operators, is ending as scheduled, with neither side telegraphing its next move.

Following the 8 a.m. Monday expiration of the weekend slowdown by PMA, terminals can again ask the International Longshore & Warehouse Union to send crane operators to unload the more than two dozen containerships anchored in Los Angeles harbor over the weekend.

The PMA order did not affect other work in terminal yards, allowing port officials to clear out containers that had already been offloaded and were bound for trucks or railcars. Not all terminals chose to do this - only one opened in Oakland, and roughly half of the dozen or so Los Angeles. Long Beach terminals - though the ILWU said in any case there was sufficient space for loading and unloading ships were management willing to ask for the crane operators to do it.

The order also specifically exempted Hawaii shipments, which were not impeded over the weekend. Matson, the dominant maritime shipping to Hawaii, has its own terminal at Long Beach, Calif., which was not affected by PMA's weekend action.

Despite some hoarding, Hawaii continues to be well-supplied. Matson ships that sailed from Oakland and Long Beach last week both arrived at Sand Island over the weekend and a third that sailed from Long Beach on Sunday will arrive at Sand Island next Saturday with still more supplies. Horizon Lines had a weekend sailing from Los Angeles that is scheduled to arrive at Sand Island on Wednesday, and a Friday sailing from Oakland that arrives here Tuesday.

However, Sand Island yard work fell behind over the weekend when the union exercised its contractual right to treat Sunday as an optional work day, sending insufficient labor to conduct regular operations.

Unlike most workplaces, in the longshore trade a terminal must request labor, and a union must supply it, before any work can be done. The work won't get done unless both of these things happen. Requesting less labor than usual (on the part of management) or supplying less than usual (on the part of labor) can produce a slowdown that does not rise to the level of a full lockout or a full strike.

The Journal of Commerce reported Sunday that the ILWU in southern California typically supplies 110 crane operators per day but in recent months has been dispatching as few as 35. What happened at West Coast ports over the weekend stemmed from management requesting no crane operators at all.

"Hawaii imports more of the food we eat than any other state in the country," said Gov. David Ige, "and most importantly, most of that comes via ship. So we are making certain that we understand what the process is. We do intend to seek an exemption."

Copyright 2015 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.