Clerical workers strike at U.S. major ports

08:13, July 02, 2010      

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Clerical workers went on strike at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports on Thursday to press their demand for job security.

Organizers said they expected the strike to deal a blow to the nation's busiest port complex as all critical paperwork came to stop.

Containers not being unloaded could mean millions of lost dollars a day, and delay goods from reaching stores across the country.

But ships were still being loaded and unloaded at the docks, a port spokesman said.

"The port is still operating, fully functioning," Los Angeles port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said. "Several of the terminals have no pickets on site at all. A couple of the terminals have three or four."

Only about 30 people from the workers' 900-strong union were picketing outside terminals, according to Sanfield.

The clerical workers staged the strike following a failure to reach agreement with a coalition of international shipping companies before a labor contract expired early Thursday.

The clerical workers want language in the new agreement to prevent employers from outsourcing jobs to foreign countries, said John Fageaux, president of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63.

Fageaux told ABC7 the clerical workers are concerned about job security and want employers to take action to protect their jobs.

A spokesman for harbor employers told ABC7 that the harbor clerical workers "are the highest paid clerical workers in America. "

"Their wage and benefit package is about 175,000 dollars a year, " Stephen Berry of the Harbor Employers Association said in an interview aired by ABC7 this morning. "They have paid time off of about 23 holidays a year, about 13 sick days a year, and about four weeks of vacation a year."

But Fageaux said the strike was not for wages and benefits.

"We have always acknowledged that we have very good jobs, we have great benefits, we're proud of that," Fageaux told ABC7. " This isn't even an issue of money. We haven't given them a wage proposal because that's not an important issue for us right now.

"What's important is the job security," Fageaux said.

The Long Beach and Los Angeles ports handle more than 40 percent of the nation's port trade.

Source: Xinhua


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