Thursday’s decision by a Federal District Court in Portland validates the ILWU’s view that longshoremen are being unfairly blamed for carriers leaving the Port of Portland in recent weeks, when the real offender is Philippines-based ICTSI.
ILWU Coast Committeeman Leal Sundet said:
We respect the court and Judge Simon, and appreciate that he can see through the distortions of an employer that’s violating its own labor contract and blaming it on the men and women on the docks.
The carriers who left Portland did so after demanding that ICTSI hire longshore workers as required by their contract. When ICTSI failed to follow the contract, the carriers left and went to terminals that were in compliance.
Exhibits associated with Thursday’s court proceeding include several heated email messages from carriers including Hanjin and “K” Line in early June that demanded that ICTSI assign the work of plugging, unplugging and monitoring refrigerated containers, or “reefers,” to longshoremen. The emails are available from the ILWU.
The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents maritime employers on the West Coast including ICTSI, has continually directed ICTSI to come into compliance with the ILWU-PMA labor contract. The contract has been built over the past eight decades and covers approximately 70 waterfront employers and 30 ILWU local unions at 26 commercial ports in Oregon, Washington and California.
In May and June, the ILWU obtained final and binding contractual rulings that the work currently in dispute at Terminal 6 must be assigned to the ILWU, but ICTSI ignored the arbitrator’s directive. The ILWU and PMA then sued ICTSI in June for failing to comply. Likewise, PMA member carriers directed ICTSI in writing to assign the work to ILWU members.
Sundet said that some in the media are inaccurately portraying the dispute as one between two unions over two jobs.
This is not a dispute between two unions over two jobs. There are much bigger issues at play, issues that strike at the heart of our collective bargaining agreement – such as whether or not a PMA member company, such as ICTSI, can pick and choose which provisions of the labor agreement apply. The fact is that ICTSI’s refusal to comply with its obligations under the coastwide labor contract threatens the integrity of the agreement and the multi-employer system that has benefited the collective industry for decades.
– ILWU Coast Longshore Division News Release