The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents terminal operators, said in a tweet on Saturday that coordinated and disruptive work actions led by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) have shut down cargo operations at the Port of Seattle.
“On the first shift today, the ILWU refused to dispatch any longshore workers to container terminals, the PMA said, resulting in the shutdown of the port.
The ILWU, however, said that the West Coast ports are open and accused the PMA of “leveraging one-sided information to influence the process.”
“Despite what you are hearing from PMA, West Coast ports are open as we continue to work under our expired collective bargaining agreement,” said ILWU International President Willie Adams.
Unions are seeking a pay increase that reflects workers’ contribution to the ocean shipping industry’s record profits from the pandemic cargo boom. They also want added compensation for the hours worked since their contract expired.
West Coast ports stretching from California to Washington state are critical to the U.S. supply chains and the economy. More than 22,000 dockworkers at those trade gateways have been working without a contract since July.
The largest U.S. business group on Friday urged President Joe Biden to intervene immediately and appoint an independent mediator to address a protracted West Coast ports labor dispute.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Suzanne Clark in a letter to Biden cited “continued and potentially expanded service disruptions at these ports heading into peak shipping season.”
The Port of Seattle did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.