Port terminal operators at West Coast ports turned up the heat on the International Longshore and Warehouse Union over the weekend, shutting down unloading operations and only hiring crews to clear previously unloaded containers from the dockside yards, aaccording to the New York Times.  If the yards are not cleared sufficiently to allow unloading to resume, the ports could face a full shutdown as early as Monday, according to the report.

The unloading shutdown and the resultant reduction in worker hours is just the latest volley in a dispute over a new contract for port workers that’s been going on for months.  Workers cut their productivity by about 50% during the dispute, according to the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents port terminal operators and shipping companies.  The slowdown is the fault of the Association members, according to the union, which argues that they are not managing their supply chains efficiently.

Port slowdowns affect any merchandise manufactured in Asia and imported into the U.S., including some comics and graphic novels, games and toys.  WizKids has been the company most visibly affected by the port problems in recent months; it announced delays for its February releases just a few weeks ago (see “WizKids Release Date Update”).

As ships stack up off west coast ports waiting for a chance to unload, it seems likely that the product delays will get worse, unless a resolution of the dispute comes soon.