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Severe worker shortage forces closure of major US shipping gateway

The busiest US ocean trade gateway has largely shut down due to a shortage of West Coast port workers, resulting in months of strained labor negotiations between the union dock workers and their employers. The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents employers, claims that a significant number of port workers, including operators needed to load and unload cargo, failed to show up on the job on Thursday evening. According to the PMA, this was a result of a coordinated action by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) to withhold labor during the contract negotiations.

However, the ILWU argues that the slowdown was due to thousands of union workers attending a monthly membership meeting on Thursday evening and observing the Good Friday holiday the following day. The dispute has caused major retailers to shift cargo to East and Gulf Coast ports to avoid disruptions.

The ILWU and PMA claim to have reached a tentative agreement on key negotiation sticking points and are working to resolve the matter quickly with the help of President Joe Biden’s administration.

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