Contract talks continued Thursday between a small clerical workers union and shipping line operators at Long Beach and Los Angeles, the nation's largest port complex, after an informal meeting a day earlier led to formal negotiations.
Representatives of the 750-member office clerical unit of Local 63 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and negotiators for 16 shipping companies had planned to meet briefly Wednesday after talks had broken off over the weekend. Instead, they negotiated at length over job security issues.
The bargaining comes at a crucial time because traffic is already congested at the ports and the union, which represents more than 11,000 West Coast workers, is in separate talks with employers to add jobs locally to meet the rising demand.
The union's Los Angeles and Long Beach members have said they would honor a strike by the clerks, which would shut down much of the ports' business.
Both sides Thursday expressed hope for a breakthrough soon.
"Things are moving in the right direction," said John Fageaux Jr., president of the clerical workers. Stephen Berry, lead negotiator for the shippers, said he was hopeful about the talks.