Port clerical workers continue talks

Times Staff Writer

Racing a midnight Saturday deadline, negotiators for port terminal operators and for 750 union clerical workers continued contract talks late into the night, hoping to avert a strike that could cripple the nation’s two largest seaports.

Members of the clerical union at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach voted unanimously Friday night to authorize their leadership to call a strike if a new three-year contract was not crafted before the old one expired, said John Fageaux Jr., president of the Office Clerical Unit, Local 63, of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

Longshore workers have pledged to honor picket lines at the twin ports, which together rank as the fifth-largest port complex in the world.

A key sticking point is a clause sought by employers that would allow the shifting of some jobs to other U.S. cities and to China, Fageaux said Saturday afternoon. “At this point, we’re pretty far apart,” he said.


The terminal operators’ lead negotiator countered that job outsourcing is not an issue.

“We’ve proposed nothing that would allow that,” said Stephen Berry, who is negotiating for 14 terminals and steamship company agencies. Instead, employers recently made a generous proposal that increases wages and benefits, he said.

L.A. port spokeswoman Theresa Adams-Lopez said the ports are not part of the talks.

“All we can do is have the port police ready to make sure everything goes smoothly,” she said.