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Richard J. Lambert was named by Best Lawyers® as a 2021 Corporate Law “Lawyer of the Year.”

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Contract dispute leads to strike at nation’s largest port

For most businesses, employees are extremely important. Without employees doing their jobs, nothing can get done. To protect themselves from some uncertainty, some businesses choose to have contracts with their employees. These business contracts help to make sure employees will stay with a company for a specific amount of time and define the employees’ responsibilities. Many New Jersey employers operate without these employee contracts, but for the ones that have contracts, a contract dispute can bring business to a halt.

This is what has happened at a shipping port in Los Angeles. This port is described as the largest in the United States. It is responsible for shipping retail and other goods all over the country — including to New Jersey.

Apparently, clerical workers with the port have been negotiating for a new contract with the owner of the port, APM Terminals. The workers are worried that APM is trying to outsource jobs overseas. Recently, negotiations broke down and the workers went on strike.

During the strike, 70 workers walked off the job. Many of the dockworkers chose to respect the strike and refused to work as well. Some reports estimated that at least half of the ports were completely shut down during the strike. One day into the strike, an arbitrator ordered the clerical workers to return to work after ruling that the strike was illegal.

As this case shows, contract disputes — especially those involving employees — can be very disruptive for a business. They can have a long-lasting impact for the entire company. To avoid contract disputes, companies should work to ensure their contracts are thorough and complete. By having well-written contracts, many disputes can be avoided.

Source: KABC, “Port of LA workers strike over contract dispute,” Amy Powell, Nov. 28, 2012

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