Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Arbitrator Orders Striking ILWU Members Back to Work

Most, but not all, of 700 dockworkers have returned to work at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach after walking off the job last week as part of a strike organized by the clerical unit of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

The members of ILWU Local 63 picketed four terminals at the ports on Dec. 2 in response to an impasse in contract negotiations that has left the union members working without a contract for 17 months.

The strike only lasted one day, however; hours after picket lines went up, an arbitrator ruled against the labor action and ordered that work resume, which it did during the 6 pm evening shift.

The union has appealed the arbitrator’s decision, according to ILWU spokesman Craig Merrilees. In the meantime, some workers continued picketing on Mon., Dec. 5. The ports’ longshoremen are bound under a separate labor agreement and not participating in the clerks’ labor actions.

The union local targeted three facilities at the Port of Los Angeles for the work stoppage: terminals used by NYK Line, Evergreen and China Shipping. At the Port of Long Beach, picketers targeted the Hanjin Shipping terminal.

The contract between the union and Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association expired July 1, 2010 and the two sides have not been able to come to an agreement on a new one since then.

One of the main sticking points cited by both sides is the implementation of new technology that could potentially result in the elimination of union jobs.
No new negotiations are currently scheduled.