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Update Port Strike: Union, Shippers Agree to Mediator

Los Angeles Mayor, who met with the negotiating parties through early Tuesday, announces that they will seek intervention to end the strike costing an estimated $1 billion daily.

Updated at 2:35 p.m. with union comment on progress.

The union and the owners of global shipping firms agreed early Tuesday to seek federal mediation to end a strike at the ports of Long Beach/L.A. said to be costing the economy $1 billion each day.

While a few news reports suggested a strike breakthrough that may be ending it, a spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) spokesman said that was untrue.

"There was some important progress made, but there's more work to do and the involvement of a federal mediator is now seen as worth exploring," said Craig Merrilees, ILWU communications director. " As long as the intense negotiations continue with a focus on resolving the most important issue: the outsource of good jobs ... to distant states and foreign countries, a practice that's been ongoing." 

Tuesday was the eighth day of the walkout by union workers at the nation's busiest seaport, which is impacting hundreds of thousands of jobs connected to cargo movement, distribution and retail, according to economists.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced Tuesday morning that 

Goods movement is so essential to the U.S. economy that national retailers have called for intervention by President Barack Obama. He has been closely following the labor dispute that has idled most--though not all--of the shipping terminals at the massive port complex.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday: ``I can just tell you that we -- and that includes the president -- continue to monitor the situation in Los Angeles closely and urge the parties to continue their work at the negotiating table to get a deal done as quickly as possible.'' Carney told reporters this when asked about the strike at a White House press briefing.

Here's more background on the strike. 

Patch will continue to follow this story throughout the day, so check back for updates.

--City News Service and Nancy Wride contributed to this report

John B. Greet December 05, 2012 at 12:45 AM
Complex is right, Nancy. For instance, are the current wages truly unreasonable? If so, why have the shipping companies been agreeing to pay them all along? If the union asks for "x" and the companies agree, who then should be faulted, the workers for asking, or management for assenting? At some point in labor negotiations, management has to step in and say "no". When they fail to do so, do they not establish a sense of entitlement much as we are seeing evidence of here? As I understand it, these clerical workers make a very handsome living, at what point do they earn enough? I would argue that it is the market and not government that is best suited to determine wage rates above a given legal minimum. By the way, the idea that Pres. Obama may be "monitoring" the situation offers me no comfort at all. He was supposedly "monitoring" the events in Benghazi as they transpired also and we still had four of our people murdered and our Consulate thoroughly trashed did we not?
Panglonymous December 05, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Is it okay to worship the market as a deity - or would people think you were weird?
100% san pedro December 05, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Its just like the oil companys, at what point do you say no. We work hard for what we make, and its not about the money.
Tom Wheeler December 05, 2012 at 03:03 AM
San Pedro, No one would argue that hard work shouldn't merit good pay, but when those with outrageously good pay (for what they do) complain and shut down commerce so a lot of others, who also work hard, can't pay for their own stuff, then it just looks more and more like simple extortion. "Pay me more or I'll shut down your commerce during the holidays." Regarding our president "watching", what's with that ? What good does watching do ? Reagan had a better solution when air traffic controllers walked off the job. He replaced them. This is what Obama should do, not out of punishment, but because at a certain point, in this economy, closing our largest port, is definitely an economic threat bordering on economic terrorism.
Tim Sole December 05, 2012 at 03:05 AM
I think the funny part of all this is, when you visit the house of one these union members, you find out they shop at "Walmart" and drive foreign cars. So much for union folks helping out other "American" workers.
Nancy Wride (Editor) December 05, 2012 at 03:35 AM
This Pulitzer-Prize winning series by the L.A. Times touches on a lot of these complex issues, and my favorite non-political point is the reality on page 2, of the following first day story. Guess who is shopping ta Wal-Mart: http://www.latimes.com/news/la-fi-walmart23nov23,1,7719393.story?page=2
Panglonymous December 05, 2012 at 04:23 AM
Tom The great majority of people have no bargaining power or security in their employment - i.e., they are completely vulnerable to the dynamic profit plans of their employer (persuaded by same that they should be "thankful" to have a job of any kind or conditions.) Another sort of terror?
james bautista December 05, 2012 at 04:58 AM
The have nots never want the haves to have.Everybody wants to be a dockworker and be paid well with good Union benefits. You people never hear the details when Union brothers are killed on the job.To the companys we are just a number.The next day they have someone else doing that job.Cancer rates are all time high from exposure to soot. But who cares, just as long as the Hook does not Hang..NUFF SAID..
JC December 05, 2012 at 05:43 AM
Wallmart is full of junk and most of its stores are in the Ghetto. NO thanks.
unknownauthor December 05, 2012 at 06:21 AM
More than over 300,000 people wanted longshore jobs last hiring. Anyone that talks so negatively about ILWU jobs and its people are just jealous or envious. Outsourcing leads to a loss of American jobs and declining stardard of living. 10 million jobs have been outsourced oversears since 2001 and the situation is gettting worse. An increase of white-collar jobs being sent overseas were peviously perseived as being safe from international competition unlike blue-collar jobs which have been already outsourced for years. Outsourcing will fuel the high unemployment rate even worse, ane weakenen the american economy. "Nothing in the world is more dangerous that sincere ignorance an conscientious stupidity."
Panglonymous December 05, 2012 at 07:14 AM
The heartless abstract people from ideas and events which without said humanity are essentially barren.
John B. Greet December 05, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Can't speak for others, Pan, but for me there is only one deity. Market economics is a human construct and, like its human inventors, has its faults and failings. Despite these, we have many thousands of years of human history to examine various economic systems. In each case we see clear evidence that the more that government meddles in otherwise free-market systems, the more unbalanced those systems become. I am no absolutist. I approve of minimum wage legislation. I do not approve of so-called "living wage" legislation, however. In this nation (at least so far and quite unlike nations like China) if people are unhappy with the wages they receive from one employer, they are entirely free to seek employment from another employer who may be willing to pay them more. The more government mandates higher wages (again, above a reasonable and legal minimum), entirely unconcerned with other market realities and influences, the more the market becomes disrupted and dysfunctional. ...or so I believe.
John B. Greet December 05, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Walmart *is* a local business. No less so than the local Goodyear tire store or the Von's grocer. Local Walmarts employ local residents, pay State and local taxes and fees, purchase local utilities and hire local vendors, and participate in many positive and charitable ways in their local communities. The wages local Walmart employees earn are likewise spent on local goods and services, further stimulating the local economy. Walmart employees who are dissatisfied with their wages are entirely free to seek higher-paying jobs elsewhere or to improve their education levels and skillsets so as to make themselves more valuable and marketable in the workplace/workforce. Modern day labor unions often cut their own noses off to spite their faces. Demanding (and often receiving) higher and higher wages which, while good for existing workers, often results in fewer and fewer jobs as well as higher and higher prices for products and services.
Tim Sole December 05, 2012 at 06:51 PM
John, I do agree with all you wrote. Having said that and having been in manufacturing my whole life, I see what "Walmart" does on the back end. Whipsawing vendors, crushing small local businesses, outsourcing and cutting costs to the point of bankrupting medium size manufactures, whom, based on their size, need the large chains to sell their product. To be quite frank, I am in awe of how well "Walmart's" supply chain works, I also understand that, when a supply chain works that well, their is no place for small manufactures in it. Small manufactures simply do not have the economy of scale to deliver at the price and quantity the large chains need. Effectively shutting them out of the consumer marketplace. When we shut out the small businesses, we effectively destroy what actually builds our economy, creates wealth for employers/employees and wrecks havoc on the local/state/federal tax base.
John B. Greet December 06, 2012 at 12:35 AM
Thanks, Tim. I respectfully disagree. I think there is room for both Walmart and smaller retailers in a robust and diverse market economy. Just as I patronize big box stores for some things, I also patronize middle-sized retailers and mom-n-pop stores for other things and other reasons. I think there is room for all types of legal businesses in our current economy and if there were not, a market that is not artificially manipulated by government would quickly weed out those participants which consumers no longer find value doing business with. It may well be that one day there will no longer be any (what we now know as) smaller retailers. If so, then it should only be because few or none in a given community wants or needs them, just as we once decided that we no longer needed blacksmiths or cartwrights or weavers. Communities and societies are organic. They evolve and devolve, expand and conctract, according to the needs and desires of their members. Walmart offers products and services that consumers desire. Were this not so, Walmart would not be successful.
Linda December 06, 2012 at 03:30 AM
What is ironic about this thread is "who is selling and BUYING all the Chinese widgets that come through the harbor?" That is really a much bigger part of this issue. "Who's cars are being processed by these Marine Clerks?" Japanese and Korean. "Why has the harbor become a BILLION DOLLAR A DAY part of the US economy?" Americans like to buy cheap goods made far from home. WalMarts entire advertising campaign for Christmas is shop here and save money. (Shop and spend less money--- sure, but save money ... not possible). I do not have control of the way WALMART treats their employees, BUT AS SOON AS THE WALMART STAFF GROWS THE CAJONES THEY NEED, I WILL NEVER CROSS THEIR PICKET LINE, I will bring them coffee and offer them an umbrella and pay their kids' fees for what ever they are doing with my kids while they are out of wrok. That is how we work as a community to help the little people find their collective power
Linda December 06, 2012 at 03:37 AM
Tim that is not true. San Pedro for years had NO BIG BOXES. We have two now. Target and Home Depot. The ACE franchise (so privately owned) at 25th and Western has done steady work since they opened because we are aware that the dollars will stay here. Even the big chain grocery stores were not here for years (Remember Mc Cowens?) We still have corner bakeries and butcher shops. And when it comes to burgers, pizza, and liquor stores--- the local shops easily out number the chains. That only happens in a town that understands what it means to the town to buy a pizza from Sorrento's or a cake from Amalfitano's My kids attend Miraleste Intermediate School and they have noticed that at the end of the school driveway the American Cars turn toward the harbor and the European cars turn left towards the hill. Come watch some morning. Everyone at the harbor understands and takes pride in what "we Americans have built." It is safe, efficient, and a harbor with integrity. It truly is the ENVY of the the world.
Panglonymous December 06, 2012 at 11:48 PM
John, I think you and I both favor a free market, and we agree that the current market is not operating freely, but probably disagree about the primary agents of interference. Or maybe not - perhaps we just use a different name for the same thing. At any rate, cheers my brother, and may all your Christmases be white (a pretty good bet up yonder :-)
Linda December 07, 2012 at 05:04 AM
That is why the high wage is paid... it is a high risk occupation.
John B. Greet December 07, 2012 at 02:43 PM
I don't begrudge any group the best wages and working conditions they can negotiate from their employers. But let's not get too crazy here. The folks who were striking were clerical workers, not dock workers. I lot of good folks with hazardous jobs honored their strike, but I'm thinking the greatest hazards these clerks had to face were paper cuts and tripping over extension cords.
John B. Greet December 07, 2012 at 02:56 PM
Will, not all Walmarts exist as you describe. The downtown Walmart is more a reflection of its current management and many of the folks who patronize the store than it is of the Walmart corporate culture. In fact that Walmart was actually always very clean and organized under its original manager who often went so far as to refuse to prosecute folks who borrowed his carts to get their purchased goods home because he understood that many of them didn't have cars and were walking to and from their homes. Like any other chain store, there are Walmarts that are well-managed and those that are not.
unknownauthor December 07, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Walmart " The high cost of low prices" documentary 2005.
Nancy Wride (Editor) December 08, 2012 at 01:48 AM
Hey Mr. Pan Wisenheimer, it turned out to be a dead-on source :D
Nancy Wride (Editor) December 08, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Frontline did a terrific piece as well. Most of them were based on, or came after, the Los Angeles Times series that won the Pulitzer. A truly great team of reporters, most if not all of whom are now gone from the Times.
unknownauthor December 08, 2012 at 10:25 AM
Hey Ms. Nancy, No shift starts at 11:00am. doesn't work like that. Maybe going to support the "other union" but definately not to start work in a middle of a shift. Hearsay.............
Panglonymous December 08, 2012 at 07:39 PM
And I immortalized it! What a credit to the community I am. ;-) But Anthony M.'s got a bone to pick: http://belmontshore.patch.com/articles/port-strike-union-shippers-agree-to-federal-mediator#comment_5699312
Nancy Wride (Editor) December 08, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Thanks, Anthony, and it turns out the strike wasn't settled for some time, so our reader must have mistook the neighbor's rush to work as a rush to work on (fill in the blank--tan? master's degree? his car?). But this is how we're keepin' it real here. Happy weekend, guys :D
Shripathi Kamath December 09, 2012 at 03:00 AM
Don't sell yourself short, Brother Pan, you are a credit to more than just a community. I would say something about a village, and "it takes a", or the word that usually precedes "savant", but in my advanced dotage, I am lucky if I can get conjugation right, bone or no bone. VERB conjugation, you perverted freaks! (Does your neighbor know you are stalking her/him?)
John B. Greet December 09, 2012 at 03:40 AM
Cheers! :-)
Panglonymous December 10, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Shri! Conjugate at will, my brother. Errant-Efforts-R-US. :-)

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