Our View: Port of Long Beach strike must come to an end

One of the biggest shipping points in the U.S. is shut down, and there is little that can be done until a compromise is agreed upon.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union clerical workers have been on strike for two weeks, and it is cutting into the $1 billion of daily revenue for the Port of Long Beach. With 10 of the 14 terminals shut down and other workers refusing to cross picket lines – mainly because the absence of clerical workers is affecting their jobs – the strike has become a national issue.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has asked both sides to meet consistently until a compromise can be reached. There are talks that even President Obama may need to get involved.

The jobs these clerical workers do is somewhat easy. They track cargo from the ship to the warehouse. The workers make roughly $41 an hour, get good health care and pension benefits and get 11 weeks paid time off. Not too shabby.
So why are the workers on strike? Well, it is out of fear that they can be replaced. Most ports now rely on computers to do these types of jobs. Others outsource the work, which is much cheaper option because the job can be done remotely through a computer. These workers are fighting for job security. They want to make sure their jobs aren’t shipped away from them to someone in China with a laptop. The port is considering a proposed practice of not hiring unneeded employees. These clerical workers fall into this category.

This makes for an interesting situation. Instead of fighting for better pay or working conditions, these people want to ensure their future is sound. It is easier to sympathize with them because they are not screaming for more compensation for their already lucrative occupation.

However, the longer this strike lasts, the harder we are going to be hit. Because it is the holiday season, there is an extra amount of goods being shipped to supply demand in the U.S. marketplace.

If this strike continues, we can expect to see a shortage for retailers and wholesalers across the nation. If this happens, prices for goods and services will skyrocket.

We want this strike to come to an end as swiftly as possible. We do not have the time or money to waste on these demands. It is unfortunate that a computer can replace these workers’ jobs, but what business is not changing with the progression of technology?

The Port of Long Beach should do what it can to satisfy its workers but simultaneously work on a new way to supplement these jobs if a compromise cannot be made.

It’s hard to determine who or what in this case is best for the job: man or machine. As technology advances, it’s not just the Port of Long Beach facing this decision. Technological advances and efficiency seem inevitable for us all. With progress in technology, companies are looking for cheaper ways to get the job done, and outsourcing happens to be one of them. These clerical workers just have to face what so many Americans already do – the job search.

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