Los Angeles / Long Beach Harbor Employers Association


Date: Fri, Dec 2nd, 2011

OCU Clerks Pull Out of Labor Talks, Put Up Pickets at LA/LB Ports
Union Still lRefuses to Address Employer Needs after 20 Months of Negotiations, Putting at Risk the Jobs of Working Families It Presumes to Support





Stephen Berry, lead negotiator for employers

Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association

(714) 668-6246 (office)

(714) 603-6001 (mobile)

LOS ANGELES (December 2, 2011) - 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 International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 Office Clerical Unit (OCU):

In a disappointing development, the OCU initiated a strike today, picketing two of the harbor employers, despite the employers' offers of complete job security, guaranteed pay, and maintenance of generous contract benefits.  After nearly 20 months of contract talks with the harbor employers, the OCU had announced on Wednesday, November 30, that it was discontinuing negotiations and would take "economic action" against the harbor employers, threatening the strike it has now begun.

The union has refused to address the needs of the employers; instead, they are pressing demands that would weaken competitiveness of the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports while rewarding and sustaining absenteeism and inefficiency.  The OCU consists of about 600 clerks who currently receive average annual compensation packages totaling $165,000.  They are the highest paid clerical workers in America. 

Far from closing the gap between the parties, the OCU's latest proposal maintains unreasonable demands, including:

  • That the employers collectively hire 52 more union employees even though there is no business need for these employees.
  • That the employers call temporary workers to cover every absence, even when there is no work required to be done when the regular employee is out.
  • A 26% increase in pensions that already provide a benefit of up to $60,000 per year or more.
  •  A 12% increase in wages over the proposed contract term, resulting in a wage rate of $45.00 per hour.
  • Unacceptable limitations on technology made available to customers and vendors, such that the technology implementation procedures the parties agreed upon in 2004 and 2007 would effectively be undone.

These demands are difficult to grasp in the midst of an economic downturn that has had a particularly severe impact on the container shipping industry and Los Angeles / Long Beach harbor community, with unemployment in Los Angeles County totaling 12.2 percent in October 2011.

In spite of these economic challenges, the harbor employers have not asked to cut wages or pension benefits.  Instead, the employers have offered the OCU:

  • 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.


  • Maintenance of the current average wage of $40.50 per hour.


  • Maintenance of generous pension benefits, providing pensions of up to $60,000 per year or more.


  • Maintenance of all in-network 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.  Plan benefits include a $0 co-pay for generic drugs; $0 for x-rays, diagnostics, and lab tests; $5 office visit co-pays; 90% coverage for infertility; covered substance abuse treatment; and more.


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

In return, the employers ask that they only be required to call in or hire workers when there is a business need for work to be performed; that the technology framework the parties agreed upon in 2004 and 2007 be preserved; that the OCU agree to encourage use of outstanding in-network health plan benefits to control rising costs due to out-of-network abuse; and that the OCU end the practice of singling out individual companies for unfair and punitive wages, benefits, and paid time off.

In an effort to resolve the dispute, last summer, the Pacific Maritime Association offered to create a supplement to its agreement with the Longshoremen for OCU workers, which would have given them the opportunity to earn thousands of dollars more per year more in wages and placed them in the ILWU's health plan -- a plan that the OCU officers themselves describe as "the best in America."  But the OCU rejected this offer.

The OCU's actions 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 -- in this case, the interests of the 600 office clerical workers.

The harbor employers cannot accept the OCU's demands.  America's fragile economy and increasing competition among U.S. ports require a more dedicated effort to meet customer needs than ever before.

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 ILWU Local 63 office clerical employees, including the administration of the labor contracts of member companies.

For more information, visit our website: www.harboremployers.com

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Link: http://www.harboremployers.com/web/news/press/details/?LOS-ANGELES-LONG-BEACH-WATERFRONT-LABOR-NEGOTIATIONS-UPDATE-45