Friday, July 6, 2012

Terminal Operator, Unions Reach Temporary Deal in Jurisdiction Dispute

The Port of Portland, terminal operator ICTSI Oregon and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have agreed to temporarily allow members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union to perform work at the Terminal 6 container facility that has been historically performed by the IBEW, which for now remedies a bitter labor dispute.

Under the agreement, which was announced July 3, the ILWU will handle the plugging, unplugging and monitoring of refrigerated containers at the terminal until the National Labor Relations Board rules on a jurisdictional dispute case the ILWU has filed. Under the dispute, the ILWU says its contract with the Pacific Maritime Association requires the terminal operator to hire longshore workers.

“We are optimistic that this represents a positive first step in resolving the ongoing issues that have taken place at the terminal,” Port of Portland chief commercial officer Sam Ruda said of the agreement.

As part of the interim arrangement, IBEW electricians have agreed to stand down and avoid any disputes with the ILWU at the terminal while the issue of jurisdiction is considered by the NLRB.

Also under the deal, the port has committed to assign other work to its IBEW employees so that they won’t be displaced and suffer economically due to the lost work assignments. Also regarding the labor dispute, a federal judge issued a 10-day restraining order, also July 3, in response to a request filed by the NLRB to address the weeks of work stoppages and slowdowns at Terminal 6.

In his ruling, US District Judge Michael Simon barred longshore workers from “engaging in slowdowns, stoppages, withholding of services, or threatening, coercing or restraining ICTSI Oregon Inc., or any other person engaged in commerce” over the 10-day period. Enforcement of the order’s provisions has been assigned to the U.S. Marshals. On July 4, the Cape Manila, a 696-foot container ship operated by German-based Hapag-Lloyd called at Terminal 6 and no problems with work flow were reported during the day.