San Francisco: The threat of labour-related disruption to US West Coast dock operations is looming again as truckers prepare for a Saturday vote on possible strike action at the nation’s busiest cargo hub.
West Coast ports have only recently cleared backlogs that had been exacerbated for months by labour disagreements.
Now truckers who haul freight from the adjacent Southern California ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are set to cast their ballots in a vote that could be a huge setback to perceptions of US ports’ reliability among shipping lines, importers, exporters and other stakeholders.
At issue is the drivers’ demand to be treated as employees, not independent contractors, by the companies they drive for and to be allowed to bargain collectively over wages and conditions.
About 16,000 drivers work at the ports, most of them independent contractors for trucking companies. They say employee status would give them better pay and workplace protections.
A vote for strike could see picket lines could go up as soon as Monday around the twin ports.
Los Angeles and Long Beach are the main West Coast gateway for hundreds of billions of dollars of annual trade with Asia.