first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.“We need to find ways to get more volume through those terminals,” McKenna said. “There are a lot of things we can do to make that happen. Shift changes are one way, but not the only way.” McKenna’s suggestion comes as the PMA and ILWU prepare to negotiate a new labor contract for longshore workers. The current six-year contract is set to expire next year. Both sides said they hope to avert a repeat of the bitter 2002 labor dispute that eventually led to a 10-day lockout and shutdown of the ports, costing the national economy $58 billion. President Bush intervened by reopening the ports with a Taft-Hartley injunction. Craig Merrilees, communications director for the ILWU, declined to comment on the PMA’s shift-change proposal. “There is always a lot of speculation before bargaining begins, but the only thing that matters is what’s negotiated when it’s all over,” Merrilees said. “I expect we’ll hear all sorts of proposals between now and the time folks sit down.” By Art Marroquin STAFF WRITER The Pacific Maritime Association is expected to ask that the early-morning “hoot” shift be eliminated at West Coast ports as one of several key changes during contract negotiations with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Replacing the current three-shift workday, which includes the 3 to 8 a.m. hoot shift, with two 10-hour shifts would better accommodate anticipated growth at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, according to Jim McKenna, president of the PMA. The hoot shift is seen as a critical component in quickly moving cargo to and from the twin port complex because truckers at that time don’t get stuck in traffic on the Long Beach (710) Freeway. Critics of the hoot shift, however, say the related labor costs are a big drawback. ILWU workers get paid the equivalent of eight hours at nearly $30 per hour to work the five-hour, early-morning shift. But McKenna said he’s more concerned about port efficiencies than saving money. “It’s about finding a way for the terminals to become more efficient, not labor costs,” McKenna said. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach handled a combined total of nearly 15.8 million cargo containers last year. That number is expected to nearly double over the next decade, and shippers must find a way to handle the increased load, McKenna said. “If those projections are correct, then we have to do something fundamentally different to handle it,” McKenna said. “Otherwise the cargo will be directed to other ports and we’ll lose out.” art.marroquin@dailybreeze.com160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more