Thursday, June 21, 2012

Federal Judge to Hear Portland Labor Dispute

Arguments are scheduled to take place before a federal judge June 22 regarding a request by the National Labor Relations Board for a court order barring a work slowdown by disgruntled union members at the Port of Portland’s Terminal 6.

A hearing is scheduled for 1:30 pm in US District Court, with Judge Michael Simon presiding. The NLRB wants the court to issue a temporary restraining order against International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 8, which the labor board says is conducting a work slowdown as part of a dispute at the terminal.

The labor board’s litigation followed similar unfair labor practice charges against the ILWU by the Port of Portland and terminal operator ICTSI Oregon. All three complaints contend that the union began the slowdown as part of a dispute over labor jurisdiction.

The ILWU is attempting to claim work through the District Council of Trade Unions that’s historically been performed by another union – the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The disputed jobs involve plugging/unplugging and monitoring refrigerated containers at Terminal 6.

Although the ILWU says its contract with the Pacific Maritime Association requires the terminal operator to hire longshore workers, the work in question at Terminal 6 has been performed since the early 1970s by the IBEW under a collective bargaining agreement with the port launched at commencement of terminal operations. When the port transitioned control of container terminal operations to ICTSI Oregon in 2001 under a 25-year lease, continuation of the IBEW work was included in the lease terms.
Although the longshore union has denied engaging in an orchestrated slowdown, since June 6, operations at Terminal 6 have slowed at times to the point that incoming drayage trucks have been kept waiting in line for hours or had to be turned away.

At the time of the hearing on whether to issue an injunction against the union, Judge Simon is expected to also consider an ILWU request that ICTIS Oregon be ordered to hire longshore workers for the jobs now held by IBEW members.