Port of Oakland shipping stalls, tensions escalate

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ByAlan Wang KGO logo
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Port of Oakland shipping stalls, tensions escalate
At the Port of Oakland the Pacific Maritime Association is accusing the ILWU of slowing down operations with fewer crane operators.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The labor dispute at the Port of Oakland and all other West Coast ports is escalating and it's starting to cut into the bone for farmers and other exporters, who are losing business to foreign producers.

The cranes in the Port of Oakland remain idle and dozens of ships are anchored in the San Francisco Bay unable to deliver or pick up goods. The Pacific Maritime Association suspended West Coast operations Wednesday in the middle of a labor dispute with the longshoremen. They say the union is intentionally slowing down operations with fewer crane operators. The union disagrees.

ABC7 News spoke to Craig Merrilees, a spokesperson for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, or ILWU. He said, "The problem is a lack of proper training for these dangerous pieces of equipment, and that's not a slowdown. That's following a safety rule that makes sure everyone is protected."

The employers are now refusing to pay holiday and weekend premium rates for four days.

Caught in the middle of it all are the truck drivers.

Romil Patel normally picks up and delivers two containers a day. He was still waiting for one Wednesday evening. He said, "If we don't deliver that load, we don't get paid. And the bills for the truck keep on coming."

The backlog and delays are inflicting economic damage on factories, warehouse operators, and any business connected to goods moving through the ports.

READ MORE: Port of Oakland slowdown crippling businesses