John Fageaux, lead negotiator for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union's Local 63, Office Clerical Unit (OCU), and Stephen Berry, lead negotiator for the employers of the OCU at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, issued a statement late Wednesday saying OCU bargaining units voted and agreed to ratify the terms of tentative agreements reached with the Harbor Employers Association member companies
on Dec. 4, 2012.
The contracts for the 600 office clerical workers and 14 employers at the two ports will run through June 30, 2016.
The statement said the approved agreements will be finalized in the coming days and are "important in ensuring smooth operations at our Southern California ports. Our local, regional, and national economies depend on these ports, and the agreements ratified tonight pave the way for continued growth in the years ahead."
The OCU workers, who perform clerical work at the offices of marine terminals and shipping agencies but are not involved in cargo handling, had been without a contract since June 2010.
On Nov. 27, they went on strike against one employer, a job action that spread throughout the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to other OCU employers the following day and shut down most cargo operations when the picket lines were honored by other ILWU employees at the container terminals.
On Dec. 4, a bargain was reached after participation of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who said the strike had cost the local economy billions of dollars.
After two months of working out final details to the contract, OCU members voted on the contracts for the first time on Feb. 6, but rejected them.
It was not immediately known if the agreements had undergone additional modification since earlier this month or what caused the OCU members to approve the contracts last night.
The National Retail Federation congratulated the OCU for approving the contracts.
“This contract will bring much-needed stability to the supply chain, better position the ports for future growth and provide retailers the certainty they need to prepare for the upcoming summer shopping season,” said Jonathan Gold, NRF’s vice president for supply chain and customs policy, in a statement.
The retail trade group continued its call for the International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance to quickly conclude ongoing local contract negotiations and urged them to ratify a new master contract.
“The supply chain has been through enough turmoil the past year. Everyone who utilizes the ports, from retailers and manufacturers to farmers and truckers, needs to get back to focusing on what they do best, powering our global economy,” Gold said. - Chris Dupin