Los Angeles / Long Beach Harbor Employers Association


Date: Tue, Nov 20th, 2012


November 20, 2012

OCU Rejects Employers' Offer for Fair and Reasonable Contracts; Ends Negotiations


(LOS ANGELES November 20, 2012) - 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"):


After weeks of negotiations during which the harbor employers believed that progress had been made towards new collective bargaining agreements with the OCU, the OCU has reversed course and once again called an end to negotiations in a move signaling that further OCU-initiated disruption in the LA/Long Beach ports is likely.  The OCU broke off negotiations after backing out of an agreement that provided a framework for resolving the parties' dispute over staffing issues, presenting a series of regressive demands that only served to widen the gap between the parties, and rejecting the harbor employers' latest-and most generous-proposals to date.


The harbor employers' latest proposals include:


  • 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.


  • Hourly wage increases of $1 each year for the next two years, plus a promise to match hourly increases provided under the ILWU Longshore Locals' master contract for the following two years-providing average annual wages up to approximately $90,000.


  • An additional one-time special payment of $3,000 to each permanent employee to cover missed wage increases in 2010 and 2011.


  • Pension increases each year for the next two years and maintenance of pension benefits for the following two years-providing pensions of up to $75,000 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 (benefits include, e.g., $0 co-pay for generic drugs; $0 for x-rays, diagnostics, and lab tests; $5 office visit co-pays; 90% coverage for infertility; 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 addition, the employers 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 OCU rejected these proposals and presented counterproposals containing some of the most egregious demands the union has made since these negotiations began two and one-half years ago.  The OCU's latest demands include:


  • An unlawful demand that employers convert some managers to union-represented clerks as a reward for giving the OCU misleading and/or false information that the OCU sought to use against the employers during contract negotiations.


  • A demand that employers hire additional employees they do not need to replace employees who have retired over the last three years.


  • Numerous new "side letters"-offered for the first time after 31 months of bargaining-seeking to expand union jurisdiction in ways that conflict with or go beyond the language of the parties' main contract.


These demands represent a complete reversal from an agreement the OCU officers made in August to relinquish their prior demand that employers hire additional, unnecessary employees.  In another reversal, the OCU have insisted on new, more rigid restraints on the implementation and use of technology, when they had agreed in August to drop similar demands.  For example, the OCU insist that vendors call, fax, or mail an OCU worker, rather than use websites and other, similar technologies to provide the same information they have always provided.  They also demand that OCU workers manually enter data into computer systems even where automated data transfers are available to provide customers and vendors with accurate and up-to-date cargo information more rapidly.


These demands are difficult to grasp in the midst of a struggling economy that continues to have a severe impact on the container shipping industry and Los Angeles / Long Beach harbor community, where unemployment in Los Angeles County totaled 10.5 percent in October 2012.  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 600 office clerks.



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


# # #


Link: http://www.harboremployers.com/web/news/press/details/?LOS-ANGELES-LONG-BEACH-WATERFRONT-LABOR-NEGOTIATIONS-UPDATE-57