President Obama has ordered Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez to San Francisco to resolve the ongoing labor dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) that has disrupted already congested port operations.

Efforts to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement that began nine months ago have broken down in recent weeks, causing the PMA to twice suspend vessel operations at 29 West Coast ports. The ILWU represents the workers who operate the gantry cranes, handle the paper work and manage the work gangs at the ports, while the PMA represents waterfront employers.

“The negotiations over the functioning of the West Coast Ports have been taking place for months with the administration urging the parties to resolve their differences,” White House spokesperson Eric Schultz said Saturday. “Out of concern for the economic consequences of further delay, the president has directed his secretary of labor, Tom Perez, to travel to California to meet with the parties to urge them to resolve their dispute quickly at the bargaining table.

“Secretary Perez is already in contact with the parties and will keep the president fully updated,” he added.

The PMA halted vessel loading and unloading at all 29 West Coast ports for the second time in a week Thursday Jan. 12  to avoid paying holiday premiums to dockworkers. Vessel operations are expected to resume Tuesday, Jan. 17. 

OIA has been helping its members contact Congress, the White House, and port executives encouraging a quick resolution to the labor dispute. Subscribers to The B.O.S.S. Report can read  details on how the slowdown at West Coast ports has affected several OIA members here.