LA Port Strike

This story was interesting.  There was a strike that halted work at a port in LA.  The clerical workers were striking over attempts to outsource their jobs.  The other workers refused to cross the picket line, and all port at the dock halted.  The main issue was attempts to outsource their jobs.  The strike was finally settled.

The clerks, who make an average base salary of $87,000 a year, have some of the best-paying blue-collar jobs in the nation. When vacation, pension and other benefits are factored in, the employers said, their annual compensation package reached $165,000 a year.

That’s pretty lucrative!  That’s more than double what I get paid!  (when I do have a job; I’m currently unemployed.)

This is the infamous Longshoreman’s union.  They negotiated way-above-market salaries for their workers, due to their ability to cripple the ports when they strike

At one time, the Longshoreman’s union was a lot of people.  All the labor was manual.  Now, with automation, there are many fewer jobs.  As a concession to allow the automation, the Longshoreman’s union reduced the number of jobs, but drastically raised the salary per worker.

This problem is created by the State law the regulates union.  What’s the problem?  When workers have a State-recognized union and they strike, the employer is forced to hire back all the workers when the strike ends.  The employer can’t say “You’re all fired!  We’re hiring replacements!”

This reduces the incentive to hire and train replacements.  With the legal obligation to hire back strikers, then the replacements must be fired when the strike ends.

Actually, with the ridiculously high contract, the employer could refuse to offer a contract, hire replacements, and then hire back the old workers and pay them to do nothing.  That would be one way to reduce the power of the union.  The employer would waste the workers’ salaries for a few years, but eventually inflation would erode the value of the salary.  After a few years with no contract, the employer can unilaterally impose new rules.

When a union starts making ridiculous demands, the employer should be allowed to fire all of them and hire replacements.  Workers should be allowed to quit en masse, but it should also be legal to hire permanent replacements.  State law gives the union extra power, due to the requirement that strikers must be hired back when the strike ends.

8 Responses to LA Port Strike

  1. I currently live in the United Kingdom.

    I’m not sure what the point is of having law in the workplace.

    If you sue your employer (or soon to be previous employer) in an Industrial Tribunal, you will never work again in that field.

    A BBC documentary about a real-life case about a female employee that was forced out of her bank after getting pregnant made that point as well.

    Even if the law is on your side, is you sue an employer YOU WILL NEVER WORK AGAIN IN THAT FIELD.

    I also heard that one union declared a strike in the United Kingdom. Their employer went to the high court and got their strike declared illegal on a technicality.

    Well the problem with that is the high court is expensive. Eventually the union won the legal case.

    But involving the law in strike in the United Kingdom means that you have to have a wealthy trade union to afford the legal bills in order to strike.

  2. Just as an aside, all libel actions in the United Kingdom have to be in the high court.

    The high court is very, very expensive.

    This means that only rich people can sue for libel. In the UK the onus is on the defendant to prove his/her statements correct.

    If you are poor you cannot sue for libel, nor can you say anything that might get you sued for libel.

    It this way, the law is only for the rich in the UK.

  3. I forgot to say that in the United Kingdom if you want to sue someone in the high court, then your lawyers (or the court) will ask for tens to hundreds of thousands of pounds in advance fees and deposits before they will do anything.

    So if you want to sue someone (maybe they libeled you or maybe they stole from you and the case isn’t a simple, low-value one) you are bang out of luck in the UK.

    You need to be very, very rich to have the protection of the law.

  4. I don’t know what it’s like in the U.K. and admit it. I have no idea where you are getting your disinformation from, but the reason employers hire back the striking workers is not a matter of law. It is because all unions make that stipulation in their contracts. They would be grossly negligent if they did not include such a requirement. Corporations have quite a bit of power. It is logical to expect that some economic force would arise in the opposite direction. I have had jobs in similar fields that have been both union and non union and essentially from the workers point of view the system under a union is generally a better deal. Any where there is a lot of wealth or money flowing expect questionably creative way to be invented in order for some one to grab a slice of the pie. When the baker gets no pie. no pies will be made or twinkies.

    • It’s called the National Labor Relations Act, you stupid troll. Employers are legally obligated to hire back strikers after a State-approved strike in a State-approved union.

      I don’t like linking to Wikipedia, but it’s the best source for this.

      Here’s another link.

      So why haven’t they all been fired? You may not realize it, but even non-union American workers have the right to strike and take other actions to protest and try to improve working conditions, and they can’t be fired in retaliation.

      • >When a union starts making ridiculous demands, the employer should be
        >allowed to fire all of them and hire replacements.

        The salary of $87K is high and perhaps these union employees have too good a deal. Employers should be able to do something about this.

        But in general employers have too much power.

        Do you remember in 2001? Customer Service Representatives tried to group together to protest against unfair working hours. I know about They do push people too much. So what did the management clowns do? They fired the Seattle customer service reps en masse and to some extent hired replacements in a foreign country. I heard some customers were shocked at the drop in customer service quality.

        Employers do have too much power. There needs to be a counter-balance.

        There was no happy ending for the fired Seattle customeer service reps. does not like unions.

    • > When the baker gets no pie. no pies will be made or twinkies.

      Ha! That rule obviously didn’t apply to me for the first decade of my life working in the software industry.

      I worked hard and was careful. My employers made large amounts of money. I was always shy about asking for money and should have angled to get pay rises on switching jobs. I got very little out of it for myself.

      I was smart, but not smart for my own benefit.

  5. Hey FSK, these folks are counting on the LA/Long Beach ports keeping their monopoly rents.

    The real story a few years from now will be how ports in Mexico (such as Ensenada) are taking the majority of LA/Long Beach port traffic. Chinese companies are investing in expanding some Mexican ports with the encouragement of Mexican governments. NAFTA will allow the free movement of these goods northbound and the railroad/trucking industry is poised to provide those conduits.

    It’s already taking shape and just a matter of time before things reach critical mass.

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