The Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association, which represents 14 employers at the nation’s two largest container ports in negotiations with clerical workers who belong the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 Office Clerical Unit (OCU), said all 16 bargaining units have failed to ratify a contract with employers.
reported yesterday the contract was rejected by union members who worked at three of the companies that are represented by the OCU. (Some of the employers have more than one bargaining unit.)
But the harbor employers said in a statement released late Thursday that the report that OCU workers at just three harbor employers had failed to ratify the tentative agreements that were reached on Dec. 4 and ended the workers' seven-day ports strike was incorrect.
"In fact, the harbor employers were formally notified by the union today that in voting on Wednesday night, all 16 OCU bargaining units failed to ratify the December 4 tentative agreements," the employer group said.
was told that while three of the contracts were rejected outright, another 13 bargaining units said they would not approve the tentative agreements unless they were modified.
The OCU does not have a multi-employer contract, such as the one the ILWU has with the Pacific Maritime Association, or International Longshoremen's Association has with the U.S. Maritime Alliance. Instead the local has 16 separate contracts, one for each bargaining unit at the 14 employers. The contracts are largely identical, and so the employer association negotiates on behalf of the 14 companies. But there are small differences in the each of the contracts and they must be voted up or down by the member of each bargaining unit.
OCU members have been working since July 2010 without a contract, a situation that continues with Wednesday rejection of the 16 proposed contracts.
Before the most recent contract was negotiated, the harbor employers said the annual compensation compensation packages for OCU member currently total an average of $165,000, including average hourly wages of $40.50.
The harbor employers said in their statement that “the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach continue to operate normally.”
The rejection by union members raises questions about the settlement that ended a strike that shut down the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach last fall.
After the 600 members of the OCU went on strike against terminals and steamship agencies, other members of the ILWU honored their picket lines, bringing to a halt work at 10 terminals and most activity in the two ports, which handle about 40 percent of the nation's container traffic.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said the strike in late November and early December cost the local economy billions of dollars.
National Retail Federation Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said “We are extremely disappointed by this vote and strongly urge the parties to work through their differences without any kind of disruption. Ratification of a contract is needed to give retailers and other industries that rely on these ports the predictability they need to make long-term plans and get back to growing their businesses and creating jobs.
“The shutdown during the holiday shopping season was more than just a fight between labor and management – it threatened to impact consumers’ shopping plans at the most crucial time of the year," he said. "We can’t afford to see another shutdown. As labor and management work to resolve this situation, uninterrupted operation of the ports should be their top priority. Too many jobs across the country depend on these ports to let any interference with operations be considered an acceptable way of doing business.” - Chris Dupin