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The Port of Seattle is silenced by a longshoremen strike

Jim Seida / msnbc.com

Cranes are at a standstill as they loom over full container ships in the Port of Seattle on Sept. 8, 2011 in Seattle, Wash. The longshoremen who work at the port reportedly walked off the job Thursday at 1:30 a.m., and their union hasn't said when they'll return.

On a typical weekday, the Port of Seattle is a buzz of activity.  Cranes pull containers off container ships that are tied to the piers and drop them on trucks.  The truckers, like Paul Bauermeister of Shelton, Wash., deliver the full containers to warehouses all over Washington, Oregon and Idaho, and return with empties or with containers filled with a different product for export. Today is not a typical weekday at the port.  At 1:30 this morning, the longshoremen who run the port walked off the job, and the port's been closed ever since.  Bauermeister has parked his truck with its shipping container outside the gate, because it would cost him too much in fuel to drive it home and back tomorrow, when he hopes the port will be open again. 

Paul Bauermeister for msnbc.com

Truck driver Paul Bauermeister has been waiting outside the locked gate at the Port of Seattle since early this morning, Thursday, Sep. 8, 2011. The longshoremen walked off the job at 1:30AM today, and Bauermeister has lost a day's wages waiting for it to reopen.

"It's not just us truckers, it affects everybody else," Bauermeister says.  "The brokerage firm that hired me is affected.  The people that hired the broker are affected.  The warehouses that are inventorying the commodity are affected because they have to hold or back up the commodities in their warehouse.  Because remember, it's not just one truck, it's hundreds of trucks.  The receiver that's expecting to have this load on a boat tomorrow morning is affected because it never gets there…it never got loaded and it never makes its destination.  So if this load was going to Hawaii or Hong Kong, there's going to be an effect on the other side where this goes as well.  The stores are affected because they never got the products they expected."

Paul Bauermeister for msnbc.com

Truck drivers (from left to right) Jefferson Davis-Lester of Washougal, Wash, Erik Anderson of Keizer, Wash, Jesse Gamet of Yakima ,Wash.,, and Miguel Garcia of Pasco, Wash.,, wait outside the locked gate at the Port of Seattle on Thursday, Sep. 8, 2011. They're hoping the port will be back open for business on Friday.

For most of the day, Bauermeister was the only one in line, the other truckers were parked under overpasses, or at home.  But as the day wears on, a few more trucks are trickling in, getting in line fourteen hours before the Port of Seattle is supposed to open again tomorrow morning, hoping that the the longshoremen show up and the wheels of commerce can turn again.

Jim Seida / msnbc.com

Loading cranes are at a standstill in the Port of Seattle.

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