Los Angeles / Long Beach Harbor Employers Association


Date: Fri, Jul 9th, 2010

  Employers Condemn Reckless Escalation of Disruption at the Ports

OCU answers employers' sweetened offers of job security, pay, benefits and pension increases - and protections against layoffs - with new pickets, walkouts

July 9, 2010




Steve Getzug

For the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association

(213) 219-8990 (mobile)


LOS ANGELES (July 9, 2010) - The negotiating teams representing employers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach released the following statement regarding the status of negotiations with the ILWU Local 63A Office Clerical Unit (OCU):


In a disappointing development, OCU workers expanded their strike yesterday by picketing another harbor employer, despite the employer's offer to provide workers with a guaranteed work week.  Employers have also offered a wage increase on top of employees' already generous average annual compensation package of $165,000, a 10 percent increase in pension benefits, and maintenance of all in-network PPO health plans despite dramatically rising costs.


In a further step backwards, the OCU withdrew an offer to maintain wage and pension levels, but has left no new proposal on the table in its place.


ILWU longshoremen from three Los Angeles area local unions initially refused to cross OCU picket lines, but the Area Arbitrator ordered the dockworkers back to work last night, ruling that the picket line was not "bona fide," because the OCU had engaged in bad faith bargaining.  The decision follows a similar ruling last week from another Area Arbitrator, who likewise found that the OCU had not bargained in good faith and ordered longshoremen to cross OCU picket lines and return to work.


Following the Arbitrator's latest ruling, the loading and unloading of cargo on the docks is proceeding without interruption.


The OCU claims that their actions are aimed at preserving job security, but the Harbor Employers have already answered that concern by offering complete protection against layoffs due to existing or new workplace technologies - with a promise not to outsource any jobs or transfer any bargaining unit work away from the OCU - and additional protections against layoffs for any other reason.


The real issue between the parties is who controls the calling of temporary employees and the hiring of new employees.  The OCU insists on complete control over when and how many employees are needed.  OCU proposals would require employers to call in temporary employees and hire new employees even when there is no work to perform.  These "featherbedding" demands encourage and reward absenteeism, reduce efficiency, and succeed only in making work for OCU employees when none exists.


The OCU also persists in attempting to undo contract language on implementation of new technology that the two sides agreed upon in 2004 and again in 2007.  Employers need to retain their right to introduce technology to better serve their customers and remain competitive in the rapidly evolving industry.


OCU workers are already the highest paid office workers in America - with some earning more than $250,000 a year.  Their average annual pay in 2009 was almost twice the average median household income in Los Angeles County, where unemployment in May totaled 12.3 percent. 


By expanding pickets that have led to wider walkouts, striking OCU workers are recklessly endangering the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people affected by port operations in the greater harbor community at a time when they can least afford it.  Their actions set back a nascent recovery on the waterfront and reinforce perceptions held by shippers, retailers and other trade partners across the globe that the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are being held hostage by union self-interest.


While other industries are retooling to meet the demands posed by today's economy and increasing competitive pressures, the OCU is demonstrating again that business as usual means disruption and refusal to embrace changes that would enhance efficiency and customer service at the ports.  Given the impact on the public and the importance of the continued movement of cargo to jobs and the economy across the United States, the port should not be shut down over unreasonable OCU contract demands and irresponsible work stoppages.


About the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association

The Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association is a not-for-profit association representing shipping agencies and terminal operators in Southern California. The Association assists its members in matters relating to the employment of OCU employees, including the administration of the labor contracts of member companies.


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Link: http://www.harboremployers.com/web/news/press/details/?LOS-ANGELES-LONG-BEACH-WATERFRONT-LABOR-NEGOTIATIONS-UPDATE-21