RPT-U.S. West Coast ports on strike over Iraq war

SAN FRANCISCO, May 1 (Reuters) - About 10,000 longshore workers that handle cargo along the West Coast of the United States stayed away from work on Thursday in a one-day protest against the war in Iraq, union officials said on Thursday.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union reported that traffic had virtually come to a halt across the regions' ports including the largest, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Oakland, Seattle and other ports along the coast between the Canadian and Mexican borders were also affected.

Union officials say many of the big shipping companies are profiting off the war.

"It's supposed to be quiet," said union spokesman Craig Merrilees. "When people don't go to work the docks are quiet."

Reporting by Adam Tanner; Editing by Sandra Maler