Los Angeles / Long Beach Harbor Employers Association


Date: Thu, Jul 22nd, 2010

  OCU All Get and No Give as Negotiations Stall

Clerical workers may have temporarily put down pickets after twice being told by arbitrators that the OCU has not bargained in good faith, but remain on strike at the negotiating table, refusing to agree to any of the employers' key demands

July 22, 2010




Steve Getzug

For the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association

(213) 219-8990 (mobile)


LOS ANGELES (July 22, 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 ILWU Local 63A Office Clerical Unit (OCU):


Despite resolving issues on minor contract provisions during the past week, negotiations over core issues remain stalled after yesterday's bargaining sessions between harbor employers and the OCU.


Harbor employers have offered multiple, meaningful concessions on core OCU issues - including a guaranteed workweek, absolute protection against layoffs due to implementation of technology, increased protections against layoffs for any other reason, wage and pension increases, and maintenance of all in-network PPO health plan benefits despite rising costs.  In addition, most items of agreement reached during the past week of bargaining represent compromises from the employers' original contract demands.


Conversely, the OCU has refused to make any movement on any of the employers' key issues, continuing to insist that employers hire temporary and permanent workers even when there is no work to perform and that the technology framework both sides agreed upon in 2004 and again in 2007 be dismantled.  The OCU also continues to press for 32 percent pay and benefits increases on top of the average annual compensation package of $165,000 that makes them the highest paid clerical workers in America.


Harbor employers cannot accept the OCU's regressive technology and "featherbedding" demands, which would promote and reward absenteeism and inefficiency at a time when the fragile economic recovery and increasing competition among U.S. ports requires a more dedicated effort to meet customer needs than ever before.


Ignoring these realities, the OCU has focused instead on diverting attention from their lack of movement by making accusations against a couple of individual companies, rather than resolving their complaints through established contract grievance procedures.  For example, the OCU claims that one employer has managers doing OCU work, but this claim is based on unproven allegations that, even if true, would impact just 13 out of the 600 employees the OCU represents.  The OCU has refused to provide the employers with any evidence to support its allegations, and the OCU already has a remedy in the form of stiff monetary penalties (6 hours of pay for each proven violation).  The OCU has scorned this established remedy in an attempt to turn a simple contract grievance with one employer into a basis for persisting with unreasonable contract demands against the entire industry - an irresponsible tactic that threatens to disrupt the nascent economic recovery at the harbor.


Since July 1, when the previous contract expired, Area Arbitrators have twice ruled that the OCU is bargaining in bad faith.  The OCU's latest actions unfortunately do not signal a turnaround from that approach.


The OCU's defiant stance is guided by self-interest, not the welfare of the wider harbor community, and it adheres to a playbook that includes disruption of port operations in Los Angeles and Long Beach as a tactic to coerce employers into agreeing to unreasonable demands.


The Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex directly and indirectly supports more than 3.3 million jobs, and is the landing point for more than 40 percent of the nation's imports.  The port complex is a critical economic engine for the Southern California region and the rest of the United States.  Given the importance of the continued movement of cargo to jobs and the economy, the port should not be held hostage over the OCU's unreasonable contract demands.


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-25