Dockworker labor contract negotiations set to begin on May 12

Yahoo Finance's Dani Romero details the negotiations between dockworker laborers and port officials, and the process of automating ports.

Video Transcript

DAVE BRIGGS: All right, jammed as they may be, supply chains could actually be on the edge of a very dangerous cliff. More than 20,000 dockworkers from 29 ports along the West Coast, which include the crucial Long Beach and Los Angeles ports, could be on the verge of a strike. Yahoo Finance's Dani Romero with us now as these two sides try to come together. Dani, hi there. What's the likelihood of a strike? And are they in communication?

DANI ROMERO: Yeah, I think that's the topic of you know, discussion right now. The ball has definitely started rolling on this one. Formal contract negotiations are scheduled to start tomorrow in San Francisco. It'll be the first time in seven years that both Pacific Maritime Association and the union representing dockworkers will be at the bargaining table to hammer out this new contract.

Last year, PMA, who represents the employers, proposed a one-year extension of the contract but that was turned down by the union. Their current labor contract expires on July 1st. Still, many observers aren't really expecting this contract to be handled before then but-- and they aren't really expecting a strike either.

Now, as for a recent report commissioned by PMA which was released last week, analyzed the automated terminals at the ports of LA and Long Beach and found that cargo handling accelerated, terminal capacity expanded. And it also was noted that longshore work was generated significantly faster there than at conventional terminals. But automation has been a hot topic. Dave, we've heard from PMA CEO, Jim McKenna, who told us last month that port automation is expected to be part of the negotiation. He called it the future of the ports.

However, Frank Ponce De Leon, one of the committee members representing the dockworkers, had a quick response following the report. He said, quote, "It's obvious that PMA is issuing its report as a posturing as we go into negotiations. However, much of what their report claims is counter to numerous previous reports on auto terminals that cite job loss and weakened efficiencies." Weakened efficiencies. Still, talks are scheduled to continue on a daily basis in San Francisco until an agreement is reached. That was stated by both the parties today and both sides expect cargo to continue to move until they reach this agreement. Rachelle?

RACHELLE AKUFFO: We'll have to keep an eye on there. Thank you so much, Yahoo Finance's own Dani Romero.