Operations on hold at Port of Oakland for labor dispute meeting

Operations on hold at Port of Oakland for labor dispute meeting

Employers, shippers continue to discuss labor contract for West Coast port workers

No gate, yard or vessel work was scheduled for the 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. shift today, Feb. 19 as longshore workers at the Port of Oakland in California took the day off for a union meeting, the port said.

Related: 5 things to know about the West Coast port labor situation

Vessel operations will stop on the evening shift as well under a month-old suspension of nighttime activity by terminal operators, the Port said.

Union workers at 29 West Coast ports and shippers are now in the ninth month of contract negotiations. Full operations are expected to resume at the Port tomorrow, Feb. 20.

The Port of Oakland sits behind the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge on Feb. 17, 2015, in Oakland, Calif. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Port Maritime Director John Driscoll, in a statement from the Port, said the workers' decision to call off work Thursday is damaging to shippers who rely on the Port of Oakland to move their cargo.

"Disruptions such as this one cripple our ability to support global trade and the economy of the Bay Area," Driscoll said.

A Port statement said the monthly meetings, known as "stop-work" meetings, have long been part of labor-management contracts at West Coast ports, though they have traditionally been held at night.

Related: Ag watches West Coast port labor situation as Labor Secretary steps in

The day-shift meeting coincides with the Port's peak period of activity, the statement added.

U.S. Labor Department Secretary Tom Perez continues to work with the parties – the International Longshore and Warehouse Union workers and Pacific Maritime Association shippers – to reach a contract agreement.

Ag groups continue to monitor the dispute as an estimated 16,000 metric tons of U.S. pork and 10,000 metric tons of U.S. beef get exported to Asia each month, largely through West Coast ports.

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