Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Port, Security Guards Reach Deal; Strike Averted

The Port of Portland and the union representing its 25 security officers reached a contract agreement on Nov. 24, averting a strike that had been planned to begin hours later.

“We are very pleased that an agreement was reached,” port Executive Director Bill Wyatt said in a prepared statement. “The port feels its contract proposal was not only fair but generous.”

The port’s new deal with International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 28 covers wages, benefits and working conditions and would expire in June of 2015. It prevents the outsourcing of jobs at two of the port’s three marine terminals, according to the union.

“We took a stand against the outsourcing because Portland working families can’t afford to lose any more good-paying jobs,” Angie Dahlgren, a security officer who served as chair of her union negotiating committee, said.

Although the parameters have been agreed to by both parties, it is still subject to a ratification vote by the union local’s full membership.

The agreement was reached just 12 hours before the union had planned to launch a 6 a.m. Nov. 25 strike. Such a labor action likely would have been an economic disaster for the port, as temporary closures of the port’s marine terminals would have meant the turning away of any ships that had been scheduled to pick up or drop off millions of dollars in cargo.

The escalating situation led to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber getting involved last week by urging the two sides to come to an agreement. Ultimately, they were able to do so with the aid of Oregon state conciliator Robert Nightingale, making this his last big project. Nightingale has said he plans to retire at the end of 2012 at the age of 66.