Friday, June 15, 2012

Port of Portland Files Labor Charge with NLRB

The Port of Portland has filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board in reaction to a dispute between two unions that has disrupted work at the port’s Terminal 6 container facility.

The matter involves a labor jurisdictional claim by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union 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, which is operated by ICTSI Oregon.

The charge was filed by the port June 8, two days after the conflict led to a work slowdown at Terminal 6, which has sometimes resulted in incoming drayage trucks either being kept waiting in line for hours or turned away at the terminal.

“Recent work actions by members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 8 have significantly impacted container operations at Terminal 6 causing costly delays for area shippers and truckers,” the port said in a statement released following the NLRB filing.

The NLRB has already conducted a hearing regarding the jurisdictional matter, but a decision’s still pending.

“As parties await a ruling (from the NLRB), recent work slowdowns and labor disruptions continue to affect truckers, shippers and carriers who depend on the terminal to move their cargo,” the port said in its statement. “This includes over 1,000 businesses that use Terminal 6 to get their goods to and from international markets, and a multitude of inland agricultural exporters."

The dispute is similar to one last year at the Port of Longview where ILWU Local 21 had sought to assume work at a new grain terminal that was originally designated for a different union. Unlike the Longview situation, however, the work in question at Terminal 6 has been performed by the IBEW under a collective bargaining agreement with the port since commencement of terminal operations in the early 1970s.

And in fact, when the port transitioned control of container terminal operations to ICTSI Oregon under a 25-year lease in 2011, continuation of the IBEW work was included in the lease terms.
The port says it plans to stick with its established contractual obligations to both unions.

“We are committed to working with ICTSI Oregon to uphold all our existing collective bargaining commitments with the IBEW and the ILWU,” the Port of Portland’s Chief Commercial officer, Sam Ruda, said.