Tuesday, September 4, 2012

LA/Long Beach Employers, Union Resume Contract Negotiations

The union representing more than 600 clerical workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has decided to continue contract negotiations and hold off on a potential strike.

The members of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63’s Office Clerical Unit have been working 26 months without a contract, and as recently as late August were on the verge of walking off the job.

But in a joint statement released Aug. 30, the union local and its counterpart, the Los Angeles/Long Beach Employers Association, said that talks between the two sides would continue.

“Both the ILWU Local 63-OCU and the employer members of the Harbor Employers Association understand the importance to the cities of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the region, and the nation of reaching a labor agreement without a strike and lockout,” the statement reads in part.

Negotiations are expected to resume this week, according to the two sides.

The union opposes technology that would allow customers to directly access booking information, saying it could lead to the outsourcing of jobs; the employers’ group, which is comprised of 14 shippers and terminal operators in and around the port complex, says implementation of new technology is needed to improve efficiency.

On July 31, California's two US senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, sent a letter to the two sides urging them to end the contract dispute and not put the region’s maritime traffic flow in jeopardy.

“With the fragile state of California's economy and growing competition from other US ports, it is essential that both parties reach an agreement that will protect these important jobs and allow the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to continue operating without disruption,” the senators wrote.