Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Little Movement in SoCal ILWU Clerical Strike Talks

Contract negotiations over the three-day July 4 weekend between maritime clerical workers and their shipping industry employers failed to end a five-day-old strike at the Southern California ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

Officials of the 900-members-strong Office Clerical Unit (OCU) of the International Longshore and Warehouse union said that virtually no progress was made during talks that ran through Monday. A new round of talks is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

The OCU union local, an entity unique to Southern California, is part of the area’s larger ILWU dockworker union. However, the unit directly negotiates its contract with 14 Los Angeles and Long Beach-area maritime employers and not with the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents the interests of West Coast maritime companies in negotiations with the parent ILWU union. The OCU represents mainly “white collar” office and clerical workers in the “off-port” offices of maritime firms. Local 63 represents more than 900 workers employed at 17 shipping companies and marine cargo terminal operators at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. The current contract talks, however, only covers members at 14 area firms.

The OCU offered a final contract proposal to employers just hours before their current contract expired July 1. According to officials with the Harbor Employers Association, which represents employers at the bargaining table, the OCU offer represented a total wage and benefit cost increase of 32 percent over the three-year life of the proposed contract.

An arbitrator has ruled that the OCU did not negotiate in good faith prior to the contract expiration on July 1 and that ILWU dockworkers could not honor the OCU picket lines. The dockworkers continue to report to work at both ports. OCU members are currently picketing at only two of the Southern California port terminals.