by Chris Daniels
TACOMA - Dean McGrath stands on a tower, overlooking Commencement Bay. He looks down at the Port, and sighs.
"This is serving no one," he says, "We've got a ghost town."
The President of ILWU Local 23 believes people have not received the full story about what has been widely labeled as a "Port Slowdown." The Union, and the Pacific Maritime Association, have been locked in a contract dispute since July of last year.
The PMA has accused union members of intentionally slowing down work at West Coast Ports, including Seattle and Tacoma. On Monday, they said the situation is close to bringing the ports to "Complete Gridlock".
But McGrath says the PMA has cut night shifts, which hasn't allowed the ILWU to help bring deliveries and shipments up to speed. He says that workers have been forced to fight for jobs during the day shift instead.
On Monday, he organized a rally at the Local 23 Union Hall, in which members shouted "Put us back to work!"
PMA Spokesman Steve Getzug explained that his organization did made some changes to staffing, but it was part of a "focused effort to get ahead of the congestion" and something "terminal operators had asked for".
Federal mediators have been meeting with both sides for about a week, but it does not appear an end is in sight.
"The cart is stacked against us, as far as getting, you know, these greater issues cleared up with our competition with Canada, Mexico, the Canal opening up, we should be focused on working together," said McGrath. "It's not in good faith in my opinion".
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