Disruption to cargo operations at the Port of Hueneme was averted when negotiators agreed to extend three more weeks new labor contract talks for two Teamsters forklift drivers, officials said Monday.
Reports last week that the workers had been fired and at least one ship diverted to another port were incorrect, said port spokesman Kam Quarles. But the potential remains for such fallout from the ongoing labor dispute, as well as damage to the port's reputation, he said.
"The longer this drags on, the uglier it gets," he said. "If there's a possibility there could be a labor action here, it damages our name in the industry slightly. If that cloud is removed, the long-term impact won't be great. But if there is a work stoppage--and heaven forbid it lasts for a significant period of time--Hueneme is going to take a big drop down in terms of its status in the industry."
Hundreds of waterfront laborers and truckers were idled earlier this month when Teamsters set up picket lines and shut down the port for a day to protest the breakdown of negotiations between the union and Long Beach-based San Pedro Fork Lift.
The temporary agreement means no labor action will occur during the next three weeks at least, Quarles said.