Oakland longshoremen walk-off portends possible strike

The Port of Oakland faces looming problems amid labor unrest and a sudden work stoppage Wednesday.

Longshoremen walked-off early in the morning in hopes of making an incredibly powerful point: they want a labor agreement from the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) that represents the port's cargo ship carriers and terminal operators.

"We've been trying, since July, to get a contract with the PMA," said longshoreman Keith Shanklin.

Longshoremen are incensed and their refusal to work without a contract is not illegal.

"We've been faithfully working, even through the pandemic, without any stoppage," said Shanklin.

The PMA said the "apparent attempt to try to exact leverage in local negotiations is counterproductive."

Trucker Bill Aboudi feels caught in the middle.

"This one day disruption, basically takes us a week to recover from," said Aboudi.

Wednesday's closure was local to the Port of Oakland. But longshoremen said the contract they want is for the entire West Coast, where a strike would indefinitely close all ports in the region.

"This is another hiccup and a lot of disputes that we've been having here on the waterfront and it just needs to be resolved," said Aboudi.

For now, the West Coast port labor situation remains in limbo.

Now, a possible nationwide rail strike, which was supposed to be settled, looms again after two major unions rejected the proposal.

"Everything is gonna stop. The backlog, anything that comes off the water that needs to go on the raid, from the rail to the water, is not moving," said Aboudi.

It's a fair assertion that a West Coast port closure and a national rail strike, would quickly return the U.S. to the bad old days of the supply chain crisis, perhaps even worse.