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Thousands of dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports, including Los Angeles and Long Beach, took the day off work today in what their union called a protest of the war in Iraq, effectively shutting down operations at the busy complexes.
The show of force by the union came two months before the contract expires between the dockworkers, represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, and the Pacific Maritime Assn., which represents port operators and large shippers, many of them foreign-owned.
The union's action demonstrated the discipline of its membership. It also serves as a reminder of the 2002 dispute between the maritime association and the dockworkers that paralyzed West Coast ports for 10 days.
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.
As a result, big rig operators were being turned away at terminal gates with signs such as "No Trucks Allowed."