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Longshoreman Union Out Of Step With Membership

ILA President Harold Daggett

International Longshoremen Association leaders were forced to talk their membership off the brink of a strike earlier this month that would have closed East Coast and Gulf Coast ports.

It’s not often that you see a union and its membership so out of step with each other. Usually, at the very least, they try to present a united front. ILA leaders are going to have to find a way to convince their members that they are working for them so the U.S. economy isn’t faced with an actual port shut down.

The last port closure occurred in 2014. West Coast ports were closed for 10 days during negotiations between employers and ILWU. The estimated cost to the U.S. economy of those closings is approximately $1.9 billion per day.

Just Another Lazy Union Afternoon…

Just another day at the docks for the International Longshoremen’s Association as they shut down a shipping terminal at the Port of Charleston in South Carolina, while another Virginia ILA official was sentenced to 3 ½ years in federal prison for defrauding his union members of $1 million. Robert Smith, a former business agent for the dockworkers, pleaded guilty last October.

Meanwhile, the UFCW demonstrated their method for dealing with employees bold enough to speak out against discrimination and harassment. When Chula Vista-based UFCW organizer Anabel Arauz filed a complaint against beleaguered UFCW boss Mickey Kasparian, the single mother was sent to frigid Utah and demoted to handling paperwork and grievance filings. Arauz said Steven Marrs, president of the Federation of Agents and International Representatives (FAIR – an offshoot of the UFCW) told

Continue reading Just Another Lazy Union Afternoon…

Portland Port Woes

We’ve covered in detail the immense blow to the Oregon economy caused by the actions of the ILWU at Terminal 6 in Portland. Recently the NLRB charged the union with continual violations of federal laws, and ordered the union to cease and desist from work stoppages and slowdowns.

Prior to the work actions by the ILWU, the port handled between 10,000 and 12,000 containers per month. The work actions caused the two major shippers to pull out of the port, and in August the port handled only 840 containers. A convincing economic argument for unions…

If the ILWU appeals and secures further court action, the potential financial cost would continue to mount, as the port operator is suing for millions of dollars in damages.

Own Worst Enemy

The Portland Terminal 6 dispute with the ILWU is another typical example of a union focusing on a money-grab for it’s employees even if it damages the overall economy of a region, and eventually creates unemployment for the same employees they say they are “protecting.” Although half of U.S. cargo comes through West Coast ports, shipping routes are being altered to avoid the contentious port. With the expansion of the Panama Canal scheduled for completion next year, West Coast port workers, railroad employees and truckers may find many of the jobs moving to the East Coast as shipping managers continue to revise trade routes.

Panama_Canal_Gatun_Locks

West Coast Gridlock

The backup at West Coast ports is on the brink of gridlock as some truck drivers wait as long as seven hours for single containers of cargo. The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents the docking companies along the West Coast, blames the International Longshore and Warehouse Union for slowing down production in order to gain leverage in their continuing contract negotiations.

ILWU denied these claims in a November 10 press release stating rather that the delays are due to companies refusing to “pay a living wage, record retail import volumes and larger vessels discharging enormous amounts of cargo.

A recent National Retail Federation report estimated that a total work stoppage “could cost the economy as much as $2 billion a day.”

Just in time for the holidays.

ports

Laziness At Terminal 6

In 2010 when ICTSI Oregon, the company that operates Terminal 6 at the Port of Portland, first took over operations, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union put on a happy face and welcomed the company with open arms. Since then, the two have been involved in a major dispute over who would be responsible for plugging and unplugging the power cords on reefers (refrigerated containers). Last December, the decision was made to reassign those jobs from members of the electrical union to longshore workers.

Since that decision was made, the Port’s general manager and ICTSI’s manager at Terminal 6 have both filed affidavit’s with the NLRB claiming that productivity has severely decreased, estimating that the performance cost for this operation has tripled from $300,000 a year when the Electrical Workers were responsible to $900,000 a year now that ILWU has taken over.

The union has continued to ignore the

Continue reading Laziness At Terminal 6

The Longshoreman's Long Shot

The feud between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 4 and United Grain Corp. has done nothing but escalate since the company first locked out 44 union members in February 2013 – so much so that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has stepped in and filed Unfair Labor Practice charges against both organizations.

The charges against United Grain Corp. describe the company’s decision to lockout ILWU workers last February as unjustified because the company failed to offer Local 4 the conditions they needed to avoid a lockout. A spokesman for United Grain countered that the allegations of the charge are not congruent with current law.

The charges against ILWU are more egregious, and include:

Local 4 members “threatened to rape the daughter of one of the employer’s managers;” caused permanent eye damage to a security officer after shining lights at vehicles driving in and out of the

Continue reading The Longshoreman’s Long Shot

AFL-CIO Dumped By ILWU

ILWUJust in time to sour the AFL-CIO convention, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union decided to pull its 60,000 members out of affiliation with the national federation. The crux of the issue is union in-fighting, as the ILWU continues to tussle with the IBEW and other rival unions, whose members have continued to cross the ILWU picket lines in its fight with grain handling companies. Some see the move as a survival strategy by the radical ILWU, and most union pundits don’t seem to believe it will impact the direction of the AFL-CIO.

Violent Squabble Goes Afloat

The grain terminal violence in Portland has received abundant coverage over the last couple of years (see our articles: July 25, 2011; Sept 9, 2011; Oct 6, 2011; Jan 19, 2012; July 19, 2012; Sept 6, 2012). Recently, the activity took to the water when on May 7 a flotilla of nine fishing boats blocked the grain ship Mary H from docking in Kalama, WA. The “fishermen,” gallantly waved their picket signs on the water while an additional group of demonstrators posted themselves onshore in front of the grain terminal.

The picketers were protesting lockouts and replacement labor. “We’re not ever going to tolerate a scab boat, and it’s going to escalate” if any vessel serviced by non-union workers tries to dock, said Jake Whiteside, president of Longview-based Local 21 of the ILWU. “I’m paying very close attention.”

Violent Squabble Goes Afloat

Strike Closes Ports, Los Angeles in Panic

UPDATE: Strike ended. Some details here.

In response to the strike that has shut down 10 of the 14 Los Angeles and Long Beach ports for 8 days and counting, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has called for round-the-clock bargaining with the use of a federal mediator.

The strike, which started Tuesday, Nov. 27, is part of the over two-year-long labor dispute between the 800 member International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 Office Clerical Unit and the shipping management.

While small in numbers on their own, some 10,000 dock-working members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (who negotiate separate contracts) are refusing to cross the picket line, triggering national concern.

Members of the National Retail Federation recently alerted President Obama and members of Congress to the severe financial consequences the strike could have on the national economy. The

Continue reading Strike Closes Ports, Los Angeles in Panic