West Coast port strife threatens delivery of holiday goods; union, employers pointing fingers

Industrials Associated Press

Labor strife at major West Coast sea ports is threatening the delivery of holiday goods that consumers expect and retailers need to turn a profit.

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Until now, dockworkers and their employers have been negotiating a new contract with little of the drama that characterized past talks.

No longer. The association representing companies that ship cargo in and out of 29 West Coast ports and manage containers once they are onshore is accusing the dockworkers' union of deliberately slowing work to gain bargaining leverage.

The association said crane operators in Washington state are moving cargo at half-speed, while in Southern California the union isn't dispatching enough workers to load containers efficiently onto trucks and trains.

The union says cargo flow is gummed up because companies can't provide enough truck chassis to meet demand.