Friday, June 8, 2012

Port of Oakland Declares an Impasse with Union

The Port of Oakland, which has failed to negotiate a new contract with Service Employees International Local 1021 after almost a year of talks, has decided to proceed with impasse resolution proceedings.

The impasse action has several stages, including mediation, and could take several months to advance toward a new contract. Steps in the impasse proceedings can include presentation of the port’s final offer; meeting to attempt to resolve outstanding bargaining issues; selection of a neutral third-party mediator; and mediation sessions to help the parties reach a resolution.

If all of other measures fail, then the final step would be implementation of the port’s last, best and final offer.

“We are resolved to seek fair and reasonable amendments to the compensation and benefits packages of our employees and, most importantly, put the port on a track to not only survive, but thrive in the years to come,” Port of Oakland Executive Director Omar Benjamin said. “We ask that all employees, from top management to line workers, share in the costs of the adjustments that are necessary for us to succeed as a whole.”

Local 1021 represents 250 employees in the areas of janitorial, maintenance and security. The contract between the port and SEIU expired June 30, 2011. Although Oakland and the union reached and signed a tentative agreement for a new contract in late March of this year, it was rejected when the rank and file voted in April.

When negotiations began a year ago, the port said, it had advanced 42 proposals. Today, 29 of those issues have been resolved, according to the port, but the two sides remain far apart in resolving a new contract.

“While the port continues to face significant financial challenges, we remain committed to recruiting and paying for the best talent in the industry,” port board President Pamela Calloway said in explaining the board’s vote to authorize the impasse proceedings.

“We simply cannot maintain or grow the workforce unless SEIU leaders join us in adapting to the changing realities facing the port,” she said.