Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Judge: ILWU Engaged in Work Slowdown

By Mark Edward Nero

A National Labor Relations judge on May 30 ruled that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union intentionally slowed down work at the Port of Portland as part of a labor dispute at the port’s Terminal 6.

In his 18-page decision, Administrative Law Judge Jeffrey Wedekind said there was plenty of evidence confirming that the ILWU engaged in work slowdowns between September 2012 and June 2013. Among the union’s actions during the time period were driving trucks slowly, refusing to hoist cranes in bypass mode, and refusing to move more than one 20-foot container at a time on older trailers, according to Wedekind.

In a statement, the union said its members were simply operating with safety in mind, not engaging in a slowdown, and called the judge’s findings “absurd and wrong.”

“The ruling, either by ignorance or by total indifference to safety on the docks, puts longshore workers in the position of having to either perform work in a manner that puts lives at risk or be accused of hard timing ICTSI; it’s an absurd outcome,” ILWU Local 8 Secretary-Treasurer Troy Mosteller said.

The ILWU says it will file exceptions to the ALJ decision, which is considered preliminary until adopted by the NLRB.

The decision was the second of two recent proceedings alleging unlawful secondary conduct by the ILWU and its Locals 8 and 40 in support of their labor dispute with the Port of Portland over the assignment of dockside “reefer” work.

The disputed work involves plugging, unplugging, and monitoring refrigerated containers after they are unloaded from vessels at Terminal 6. The union contends that the work should be assigned to the Local 8 longshoremen, who are employed through the union hiring hall by ICTSI Oregon, which operates the terminal under a 25-year lease agreement with the Port of Portland, rather than the electricians, who are directly employed by the port and are represented by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 48.

When the port transitioned control of terminal operations to ICTSI Oregon in 2011 under a 25-year lease, continuation of the IBEW work was included in the lease terms. However, the ILWU intervened, saying that its contract with the Pacific Maritime Association required the terminal operator to hire longshore workers.

In December 2013, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber announced that the two-year dispute had been resolved and that the work was awarded to the ILWU.