Mixer: Port parties negotiating again

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friday mixer bannerWe’ve been highlighting the importance of the ports all this week inside the KCRW series Cargoland. And the one thing we keep talking about is the sheer volume of items that pass through those harbors.

But why is the port where it is? And how many people work there and are affected by what happens there?

The news that goes on there means a lot to all of us. The items that come through are stacked in grocery and department stores, car dealers and even hospitals.

So, the work that goes on there affects us all too.

Negotiating teams on the side of longshoremen and management at the Ports of LA and Long Beach sat down this week for the first time in several weeks.

Workers who handle billions of dollars of cargo have been working since July without a contract, and negotiations over a new one became heated this fall.

Those workers are seeking increased work safety and security.

And those aren’t the only labor issues we’re seeing at America’s busiest cargo entryway.

Truck drivers are also trying to unionize at the ports, saying they’re not receiving fair benefits because they work as independent contractors.

Joe Mathews is California Columnist for Zocalo Public Square, an ideas exchange that publishes daily, and Karen Robes Meeks covers the ports for the Long Beach Press-Telegram. Both spoke to KCRW’s Steve Chiotakis.