Cargo is moving smoothly through the nation's largest port complex — the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles — thanks to a contract settlement that avoids a strike by hundreds of clerical dock workers.
A strike deadline came and went last week, but dock clerks and shipping companies in Long Beach and Los Angeles kept talking. And Thursday, they reached an agreement on a new, three-year contract. During that time, dock clerks will see a 14-percent increase in pay and benefits, while shippers will get new flexibility to reduce staffing through attrition.
Shippers' negotiator Steve Berry calls the deal a victory for consumers, since a strike might have left imported Christmas gifts stranded on the shipping dock.
"The cargo that's coming in right now is destined for holiday shelves in retail stores," Berry said. "Had the strike occurred, that cargo would have backed up and would have impacted the holiday shopping season – 40 percent of all the goods we receive as imports in the U.S. comes through this harbor."
The contract covers only about 750 dock clerks, but 15,000 longshoremen had vowed to honor their picket lines, had a strike occurred.