Tuesday, February 26, 2013

ILWU Clerical Unit Approves Deal

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63’s Office Clerical Unit (OCU) has switched positions and voted to ratify a labor agreement that had been voted down two weeks prior.

Late on Feb. 20, John Fageaux, lead negotiator for ILWU Local 63 OCU and Stephen Berry, lead negotiator for the employers of the OCU at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, released a joint statement saying that the union’s bargaining units had voted to ratify the terms of the agreement, which was originally reached with the LA/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association on Dec. 4, 2012.

Although the two sides appeared to have a deal at the time, the terms were unanimously rejected by the union’s bargaining units during a Feb. 6 ratification vote. But just two weeks later, the deal was approved by all 16 of the bargaining units, with neither side giving an explanation regarding what led to the turnaround.

The contract, which affects roughly 600 office clerical workers and the 14 employer groups at the ports of LA and Long Beach, will run through June 30, 2016. The clerical staffers had been working without a contract since their previous three-year pact with management expired June 30, 2010.

Neither the union nor employers association has been willing to go on the record regarding the labor negotiations, specific details of the agreement or the rank and file’s rejection of the deal. Both sides acknowledge however, that the main sticking point had been the outsourcing issue. The union has contended that management wants to implement new technology that would lead to fewer flesh and blood workers being necessary.

Although the employers’ group has maintained that implementation of new technology is needed to improve efficiency, the ILWU has specifically opposed technology that would allow customers to directly access booking information, saying it could lead to the outsourcing of jobs.

The union had also sought to have language included in the contract specifying that workers would not be laid off.