Friday, February 20, 2015

Labor Meeting Halts Work at Oakland Marine Terminals

By Mark Edward Nero

No gate, yard or vessel work took place during the 8 am to 5 pm shift at Port of Oakland on Feb. 19 as marine terminal operations were halted due to longshore workers taking the day off for a union meeting, the port said.

In addition, vessel operations did not resume on the second shift due to a suspension of nighttime activity instituted by terminal operators in mid-January. The lack of longshore labor during the day meant containers were not loaded or unloaded on the 12 vessels berthed at the port. It also prevented the release of import containers or acceptance of exports for overseas shipment.

The port said it expected full operations to resume on Feb. 20.

“The decision not to work is damaging to shippers who rely on the Port of Oakland to move their cargo, and to the thousands of people who depend on the port for their livelihood,” Port Maritime Director John Driscoll said. “Disruptions such as this one cripple our ability to support global trade and the economy of the Bay Area.”

The International Longshore & Warehouse Union took the day off to conduct a monthly meeting – known as a “stop-work” meeting – that is typically held during the evening, not during the day shift when the port is at the peak of its activity.

But although the port placed the halting of terminal activity squarely on the shoulders of the dockworkers, a source with the union said that ILWU Local 10 notified the terminal operators on Feb. 3 that it would be conducting the stop work meeting on Feb. 18, and that the terminal operators had plenty of time to prepare for the occurrence.

An evening stop work meeting could not be held by the union because the port had eliminated the second shift, said the source, who asked not to be identified because he wasn’t authorized to publicly address the issue.