Marc Levinson on the California Dock Labour Dispute

7 12 2012

A few years ago, Marc Levinson published The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger. This book is an absolutely fantastic history of the shipping container. I use it in my teaching about globalization. The best parts of the book are the chapters about how unionised workers responded to the introduction of shipping containers, a labour-saving technology, in the late 1950s.

 

Two days ago, clerical workers at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles ended their strike. This strike had attracted national media attention because it had threatened to disrupt the supply of Chinese-made toys  imported goods just before Christmas (gasp!).

 

Some observers had wondered how a strike by clerical workers could close an entire port. In a post on the Echoes blog, Levinson traces the situation back to a collective agreement negotiated at the dawn of container era.

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