Los Angeles / Long Beach Harbor Employers Association

« Back | OCU Labor Negotiations FAQ

Date: Tue, Jul 31st, 2012
Q.  Who is involved in the negotiations?  When did they begin?

The employers within the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association are currently negotiating new labor rcontracts with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Marine Clerks Local 63 Office Clerical Unit (OCU).  Negotiations commenced on April 19, 2010.  The previous contract expired on June 30, 2010.

Q.  How many employees are covered by this contract?

A.  These negotiations impact roughly 600 office clerical workers at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.  With annual compensation packages of $165,000, these workers are the highest-paid clerical workers in America.  They handle administrative paperwork in an office setting.

Q.  Have the negotiations involved any disruption?

The OCU has disrupted ports operations three times during negotiations, picketing terminal operators and an agency in July 2010 and picketing terminal operators again in December 2011.  Area arbitrators twice ruled that the pickets were not legitimate, but a Coast Arbitrator ruling in March overturning the December decision could lead to new, more significant disruption.

Q.  What are the latest developments in these discussions?

  Representatives of both the employers and OCU have met for contract negotiations after the issuance of the Coast Arbitrator's ruling, but the negotiation sessions ended without any agreement and there are indications that the OCU may initiate a work stoppage.

Q.  What's at stake?

In short: the uninterrupted operations of the busiest port complex in the United States.

The neighboring ports that make up the Southern California port complex are the primary gateway for Asian imports into the United States, the busiest ports on the West Coast, and the eighth busiest by container volume in the world.  Together they influence millions of jobs across the U.S.  A 2010 analysis by the U.S. Congressional Budget Office estimates that a one week shutdown of the Los Angeles and Long Beach Ports would cost between $65 million and $150 million per day.

Q. What is the OCU demanding?

The OCU continues to press for contract terms that would weaken competitiveness of the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports. These terms are difficult to grasp in the midst of a still challenging economic climate. The OCU's latest proposals include: 

  • Undoing the technology implementation procedure that they bargained for and agreed to in 2004 and in 2007.


  • Placing unacceptable limitations on the use of technology that has made the LA/Long Beach ports more efficient and competitive in recent years, such as:


    • Insisting that vendors call, fax, or mail an OCU worker, rather than use the employer's website to access basic information.


    • Refusing to allow automated data transfers that would enable employers to provide customers and vendors with up-to-date cargo information, insisting instead that OCU workers manually enter data into the system even if it means duplication of work and raises the potential for error.


    • Prohibiting carriers, customers, and vendors from using internet portals to access information on employer systems regarding the services the employer is providing them, requiring them to call an OCU worker instead.


    • Prohibiting customers from printing out copies of booking confirmations from electronic messages or employer websites, requiring instead that the customers call the OCU to receive an extra printout.


  • Requiring employers collectively to hire 38 more union employees even though there is no business need for these employees.


  • Requiring employers to call temporary workers to cover absences, even when there is no work required to be done when the regular employee is out.


  • Increasing pension benefits that already provide a payout of up to $60,000 per year or more after retirement.


  • Increasing wages by approximately 14 percent over the proposed contract term, resulting in wages of over $90,000 per year.

Q.  What are the employers offering?

Employers have offered a generous contract package to the union that includes the following: 


  • Absolute job security - a guarantee against layoffs


  • Guaranteed pay of 40 hours a week (37.5 hours for six of the employers) for 52 weeks a year, whether there is work to do or not.


  • Annual wage increases above and beyond the present average of $40.50 per hour.


  • Annual pension benefit increases, providing pensions of up to $65,000 per year or more.


  • Maintenance of all benefits in the clerical workers' health care plan - for which they pay nothing - although the cost of premiums paid by the employer for family coverage under the plan is $41,000 per year.


    • Benefits include, e.g., $0 co-pay for generic drugs; $0 for X-rays, diagnostics and lab tests: $5 office visit co-pays; 90 percent coverage for infertility; and more.


  • Maintenance of all other employment benefits (an average of 12-15 weeks of paid time off every year, meal and transportation allowances; early retirement with full benefits; education reimbursement, etc.

In addition, the employers have offered significant compromises on their key issues of staffing and technology.  The employers agreed to relinquish their request for full control over whether and when temporary employees are called in to work, a position they had sought to maintain since the beginning of negotiations in April 2010, offering the OCU three different options for a compromise on the issue of filling temporary vacancies.  The employers also agreed to make a number of changes to the technology implementation framework that addressed OCU concerns.  The employers continue to insist on an end to the practice of singling out individual companies for unfair and punitive wages, benefits, and paid time off.

Q.  What do the employers' most recent proposals contain?

Each of the employers recently offered the OCU three separate options for a new collective bargaining agreement.  Details of these options may be found here.  To date, the OCU has rejected each of these options.  The first two options provide for a complete OCU contract and contain improvements over the employers' prior proposals.

The third option, provided with the authorization of the Pacific Maritime Association ("PMA"), offered to create a supplement to the ILWU-PMA conract covering the OCU.  The supplement would give the OCU the opportunity to earn thousands of dollars more per year in wages and place them in the ILWU's health plan - a plan that the clerical workers' union officers themselves describe as "the best in America."  The employers originally presented a proposal to create a supplement to the ILWU-PMA contract last spring, but the clerical workers rejected this offer.  The third option of the employers' most recent proposals contains improvements over the proposal made last year.  More information regarding this proposal may be found in here

Link: http://www.harboremployers.com/web/news/faq/details/?OCU-Labor-Negotiations-FAQ-8