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Bid Fails; Baseball Souvenirs Stuck at Port

October 23, 2002|Marla Dickerson | Times Staff Writer

Despite a ninth-inning offer of help from baseball-loving dockworkers, it appears that efforts to free a container of World Series souvenirs from the backlogged Port of Los Angeles has struck out.

Chatsworth entrepreneur Mitch Tendler said he was informed Tuesday by the ocean carrier handling his shipment that his 57,000 disposable cameras won't be unloaded in time to make the Fall Classic. The cameras were supposed to be given away to fans tonight at Game 4 in San Francisco as part of a promotion by MasterCard Inc. But they are stranded in a ship harbored outside the Port of Los Angeles as West Coast ports struggle to dig out from a 10-day lockout that ended Oct. 9.

Unionized dockworkers Tuesday volunteered to unload the container on their off time. They blamed the Pacific Maritime Assn., which represents shipping lines and terminal operators, for dragging its feet.

"Baseball is America's pastime," said Steve Stallone, spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. "The guys would love to make this happen, but the PMA won't cooperate."

The management group said the decision to give priority to a ship carrying disposable cameras rested with the carrier, not the PMA. The employers' group blames the current backlog at the ports on a union slowdown, a charge that the ILWU denies.

"The union is trying to exploit this issue," said Steve Sugerman, spokesman for the Maritime Assn. "We'd love to see them take this approach on a daily basis. That ship would already be unloaded by now."

Tendler, owner of Greeting Camera, said he appreciated the union's offer, "but it's too little too late."

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