Clerical workers representated by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 Office Clerical Unit went on strike at APM Terminals (APMT) Pier 400 facility in the Port of Los Angeles on Tuesday.
While Local 63 OCU employees do clerical work for shipping agencies and terminals, other ILWU longshoremen who work at the terminal honored their picked line, effectively shutting down the terminal, one of the nation's largest.
APMT said in a status update report posted on the terminal’s Website it did not expect the facility to reopen this morning
APMT said a local arbitrator had ruled that the pickets “are non bona fide and ordered the ILWU workers to return to work at 21:00 hours. The ILWU is not adhering to the arbitrator's ruling.”
ILWU Local 63 OCU has 800 members who work for 14 terminal companies and
steamship companies, and has failed to reach agreement with employers on
a contract that expired on June 30, 2010. Talks broke off earlier this month.
After they started picketing, other longshoremen began honoring the strike
, according to a report in the Daily Breeze
The 14 employers negotiate contracts with ILWU Local 63 OCU individually, but
are represented by the group Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association (LA/LBHEA)
instead of the Pacific Maritime Association which represents employers
up and down the West Coast in negotiations with the main body of the
The LA/LBHEA said an area arbitrator ruled Tuesday night that the OCU has failed to bargain to a good faith impasse and OCU picket lines are not bona fide. The arbitrator directed ILWU longshoremen and marine clerks, who had initially honored the OCU picket lines, to return to work, but the longshoremen and marine clerks were disregarding the arbitrator's order.
APMT said the job action is being addressed through the grievance machinery as an illegal work stoppage, which will move the issue through the processes of the Pacific Maritime Association.
It was not clear if the ILWU planned to picket other facilities.
While ILWU Local 63 OCU has struck employers in the past, the impact of those strikes has been limited. But in April, another mediator had held that other ILWU members could honor a Local 63 OCU picket line.
ILWU said in a press release that the strike began at noon
“to stop international corporations from outsourcing dozens of good-paying jobs that support working families in the harbor community”
“We’ve been meeting with the companies for more than two years, but they’re still concealing their outsourcing – even when they’ve been caught red-handed,” said 63-OCU President John Fageaux. “These employers seem to have an insatiable appetite for outsourcing.”
The union said the “harbor community has lost at least 51 permanent positions during the past 5 years, and that the companies have announced plans to take away another 76 in the future."
“This outsourcing isn’t being done by little mom-and-pop operations; these are powerful multi-national corporations who aren’t respecting the local communities,” said ILWU International Vice President Ray Familathe, who added, “these guys can outsource a good-paying job to Taipei with the push of a button, and seem to care less how it impacts a family living in the harbor area.”
But the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association called the strike “disappointing,” saying it had offered employees “complete job security, increased wages and pensions, guaranteed pay, and maintenance of all generous health benefits.”
It said facts do not support’s the OCU’s “attempt to justify the strike by claiming that the employers are trying to outsource jobs.”
The employer association said it has “offered complete protection against outsourcing by providing an absolute guarantee that no OCU workers will be laid off for the term of the new agreement. Every regular OCU worker has a guaranteed job under the contract offered by the employers.
“The employers have also offered the OCU guaranteed pay of 40 hours a week (37.5 hours for six of the employers) for 52 weeks a year, whether there is work to do or not. The employers have no incentive to outsource OCU work when they are obligated to pay OCU employees whether there is work to do or not.
“Not one OCU job has been sent overseas, or anywhere else.” It said the 51 jobs referred to by the union belonged to workers who retired, quit, or died in the past three years and said none of the “job positions they identify has been given to a non-union employee or sub-contracted away; there simply has not been a business need for replacing these workers.”
The employer association also said there is a “grievance procedure that the OCU can use any time it feels that employers are diverting union work through technology or any other means.
“The OCU’s tactics are really designed to protect and promote ‘featherbedding’—the practice of requiring employers to call in temporary employees and hire new permanent employees even when there is no work to perform. These unacceptable demands encourage and reward absenteeism, reduce efficiency, and succeed only in requiring payment to OCU employees when no work exists,” the employer association said. - Chris Dupin