Port of Los Angeles Ends Strike, Streamlines Permitting Process
Mayor of Los Angeles Antonio Villaraigosa released a statement December 4 that an agreement was reached between labor and management, bringing an end to the eight-day strike by 600 clerical workers represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
Mayor Villaraigosa thanked the employers and the union for returning to the bargaining table in order to reach a new deal. He also thanked federal mediators who quickly flew to Los Angeles to work with both sides.
“The Port of Los Angeles commends both sides for reaching an agreement,” Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Geraldine Knatz said. “We are particularly grateful to Mayor Villaraigosa for his leadership and tenacity in keeping the negotiations moving over the past 24 hours. The days ahead will be busy, but we look forward to seeing a workforce of thousands back on the job and returning this complex to business as usual.”
“With the strike now ending, we must waste no time in getting the nation’s busiest port complex’s operations back up to speed,” Mayor Villaraigosa said.
The Port of Los Angeles generates more than 830,000 regional jobs and $35 billion in annual wages and tax revenues.
The Port of Los Angeles finished 2012 with a 1.7 percent increase in overall cargo volumes, compared to 2011. The total number of twenty-foot equivalent (TEU) containers for 2012 was 8,077,714, compared to 7,940,510 TEUs in 2011. It is the third time in the Port’s history to eclipse eight million TEUs, the last time coming in 2007.
The end to a labor strike and increases in cargo volumes for 2012 has the port poised for growth in 2013, aided by a newly passed Los Angeles ordinance that will streamline the permitting process for future Port of Los Angeles construction projects. The port said this will allow it to remain competitive, meet safety standards and move ahead on its five-year, $1.2 billion capital improvement plan.
Working with the Department of Building and Safety, the new ordinance amends the city’s building code to provide a more efficient permitting process for maritime projects.
“This keeps the nation’s busiest port competitive and makes new construction jobs available sooner,” said Mayor Villaraigosa in a December 6 press release.
“Streamlining the permitting process for maritime-related construction projects is an essential component to the port’s ability to remain the number one trade gateway in the nation,” Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino said.
He said the agreement with the Department of Building and Safety will allow the port to move quickly forward with projects that will increase cargo movement capacity and terminal efficiency. The projects will also reduce the environmental impacts of port operations to the surrounding communities, Buscaino said.
Los Angeles City Councilman Ed P. Reyes warned about the impending threat to the local economy that comes with the expansion of the Panama Canal, and earlier this year he led a city council policy discussion regarding the economic impact the Panama Canal expansion would have in Los Angeles.
“The Port of Los Angeles is one of our region’s greatest economic engines, so it was vital that our city family work in unison to streamline permitting operations for which the Harbor Department has unique expertise,” Reyes said.
“This is a very forward-thinking solution because our marine terminal facilities include massive gantry cranes and other specialized cargo-handling equipment – operational components found nowhere else in the city,” Port Executive Director Knatz. “The Harbor Department has the knowledge and relationships with our terminal operators to manage safe and expedient installation of that equipment and the infrastructure it requires.”
“The Harbor Department and the Department of Building and Safety will continue to work together to ensure the highest level of safety for all projects,” Building and Safety’s General Manager Bud Ovrom said.
The Port’s capital improvement projects include spending $1.2 billion over the next five years to provide superior cargo terminals, rail and warehouse infrastructure to retain and attract top business tenants from around the world. In addition to cargo-related infrastructure, the port is also spending a portion of its capital budget on community, recreational and educational projects.