All 29 ports on the West Coast, including the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, have been effectively shut down this morning as thousands of dockworkers stayed home to protest the Iraq war. The walkout comes two months before the contract between dockworkers and and port operators expires. Louis Sahagun has the story:
"We are supporting the troops and telling politicians in Washington that it's time to end the war in Iraq," union president Bob McEllrath said.
McEllrath, whose comments came in a press release handed out by union officials in the Port of Los Angeles area, said rank-and-file members decided in early January to stand down on May 1.
The dockworkers' action also affected ports in Oakland, Seattle and San Diego, and was expected to last between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. The dockworkers do virtually all the work involved in loading and unloading freight between ships and the port, handling containers brimming with toys, clothing, computers and automobiles.
Big rigs headed for the ports are being turned away at the terminal gates. That's a guard at the TREPAC terminal in San Pedro, keeping traffic from entering.