Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Labor Dispute Halts Oakland Terminal Operations

By Mark Edward Nero

One of the five marine terminals at the Port of Oakland had its operations suspended March 28 after a dispute regarding the time that workers represented by the International Longshore & Warehouse Union begin their workday.

Last week, SSA Marine, which operates the Oakland International Container Terminal, unilaterally instituted a 6:45 am start time for day shift workers, which was 15 minutes earlier than the previous time of 7 am.

When workers refused to show for work at the new time on March 28, the union says, SSA fired more than two dozen workers and temporarily closed the terminal.

“The company refused to honor the start time in our contract,” Craig Merrilees, a spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, told the San Francisco Chronicle March 28 regarding the situation.

According to Merrilees, an arbitrator was summoned in an attempt to resolve the dispute.

In the meantime, however, truck traffic was backed up at the terminal, with dozens of drivers queued up outside, waiting to pick up and drop off containers at OICT, which is Oakland’s largest terminal.
When fully operational, OICT handles about 74 vessel calls each month and provides stevedoring services for 20 shipping lines serving Asia, Europe and Central America.

As of the afternoon of March 28, Oakland’s other four terminals were operating normally, although one of them, the Outer Harbor Terminal, is closing at the end of the month due to operator Ports America pulling out of the area. Ports America filed for bankruptcy Feb. 1.