Employers decry 'break' in West Coast port talks

A Crowley Maritime Corp. tugboat prepares to guide the MOL Endurance Container ship out of its berth at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, California.
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A Crowley Maritime Corp. tugboat prepares to guide the MOL Endurance Container ship out of its berth at the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro, California.

Negotiations over a new contract for dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports took an unexpected turn Thursday, as the union insisted on "small table" talks while employers decried the "extended break."

The full teams for the longshoreman's union and the association representing trans-ocean shipping lines and operators of port terminals aren't scheduled to meet again until Dec. 2.

The maritime association called the development a "slowdown tactic"a pointed reference to their complaints that dockworkers are deliberately dragging as they load and unload ships.

Public pressure has been mounting to resolve labor strife at ports that handle billions of dollars of imports and exports each day.

A union spokesman said negotiations were going well and the change was a chance to tackle tough issues in small groups.