Ports on the West Coast reopened on Monday after being shutdown over the weekend due to labor disputes between dockworkers and employers. According to a local CBS News affiliate, the two parties are in the midst of negotiating a new contract.
The West Coast ports handle approximately one-quarter of the United States' international trade, which comes to nearly $1 trillion yearly. Tensions are running high as cargo now moves slowly, causing backups and shipping problems.
Companies hired temporary workers over the weekend to transport dockside cargo that had already been unloaded from the shipping containers away from the shipping yard, because the yards are reportedly at full capacity and more space is needed for future shipments.
The dock employers recently reported that dockworkers have been working at unnecessarily slow speeds as a pressure tactic in contract negotiations. The CEO of the maritime association representing the employers alleged that the ports were facing complete gridlock, and that employees could soon find themselves in a total lockout.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, on the other hand, maintains that the congestion is the result of structural problems with the supply chain. Both sides are in talks to come to an agreement, and are facing pressure from politicians, retailers and exporters to reach a conclusion.
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