LOS ANGELES — Striking office clerical workers and their employers agreed Tuesday to accept federal mediation in an attempt to end the week-long strike that has crippled the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Port and terminal executives hope mediation can begin within 24 hours as the Office Clerical Unit of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 will maintain its pickets at 10 of the 14 container terminals in the harbor, and ILWU dockworkers are continuing to honor the pickets.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa participated in the negotiations all night, and he said progress was being made, but not enough progress to reach a settlement in the contract negotiations that have dragged on for more than two years.
Meanwhile, more than 15 vessels have been diverted from Southern California to Oakland and ports in Mexico and Panama since the OCU struck the first terminal Nov. 27.
Dozens of trade and transportation groups have pleaded with negotiators to accept mediation in a dispute that has already cost the national economy billions of dollars. One hundred organizations signed a joint letter to President Obama seeking engagement from the White House, including a request for a Taft-Hartley back-to-work injunction if needed.