Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Anti-Labor Slowdown Bill Introduced

By Mark Edward Nero

A Port of Portland-based maritime shipping terminal has helped craft legislation in the US Senate that could help prevent the type of maritime labor slowdowns at West Coast ports that disrupted domestic and international trade earlier this year.

The Preventing Labor Union Slowdowns Act of 2015 (PLUS Act) was introduced in the Senate June 18 by Republican Idaho Senator James Risch. It was the result of efforts by ICTSI Oregon, the terminal operating company for the Port of Portland’s Terminal 6, to focus congressional attention on the ongoing problem of maritime labor slowdowns.

The measure would amend the National Labor Relations Act to make intentional slowdowns by maritime unions an unfair labor practice. Offending labor organizations would be subjected to federal court injunctions against slowdowns as well as damage claims to injured parties.

“If enacted, the PLUS Act will help ensure that a small number of workers cannot engage in unfair labor practices that threaten our nation’s economic prosperity and hold our economy hostage,” ICTSI Oregon CEO Elvis Ganda said.

ICTSI Oregon representatives recently made trips to Washington, DC to propose and build support among congressional lawmakers and trade associations for reasonable maritime labor law reform, and the company says it has worked closely with Sen. Risch and his staff to finalize the PLUS Act for Senate consideration.

ICTSI has been locked in a battle for about three years with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which the terminal operator has accused of intentionally slowing down productivity by about 47 percent in 2014 as part of a labor dispute.

“This legislation represents an important change to maritime labor law that will go a long way toward ensuring a more stable work environment at West Coast ports, one in which innocent parties are not subjected to severe economic damage by unfair union slowdown tactics,” Ganda said.

The PLUS Act has been referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. More about the bill can be read at https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/senate-bill/1630