A one-day labor action by members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) brought activity at the Port of Oakland to a halt Tuesday, but the port authority said by the end of the day Oakland Mayor Jean Quan had "brought the leadership of the Port of Oakland
and Service Employees International Union Local 1021 together in an
effort to get the parties back on a path to contract resolution."
About 100 to 150 employees demonstrated at various sites around the port and a half-dozen ships were not worked. SEIU Local 1021 represents port employees primarily in the janitorial, custodial and maintenance fields.
The port has been negotiating a new contract with SEIU Local 1021, which expired in July 2011. The union represents about half of the port's workforce.
The port declared an impasse in negotiations in May, and the two sides selected an arbitrator. They are in the midst of a fact-finding phase of arbitration and both sides are scheduled to meet with the arbitrator on Nov. 29.
The port says SEIU workers are the best compensated for their classifications of public sector workers in the region or at comparable ports, making 20 percent more than their counterparts.
The port is asking current employees to contribute to their retirement – something all senior management and some represented employees under new two-tier systems currently do; allow a two-tier system for pension and healthcare for new hires – which all non-represented port employees and two of four port unions already have; and maintain compensation.
The port and union reached a tentative agreement on those issues in March, but the SEIU rank-and-file rejected the proposal by a vote of 170-3.
Quan said "both sides need to come together so that the port can continue being the economic engine of good jobs that we all need it to be.”
Acting Port Executive Director Deborah Ale Flint said the deal brokered by Quan would allow marine terminals to reopen for the evening shift.
The port said operations at Oakland Airport, filled with Thanksgiving holiday travelers, were not disrupted. - Chris Dupin