ILWU and its “myths” revealed

If the OCU continues its strike, the negative effects on jobs and the economy will be felt nationwide

By Patrick Burnson · November 29, 2012

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has urged both parties in the LA Port labor dispute to return to the bargaining table.

“The City of Los Angeles needs both of you to get back to the bargaining table this week, to work with a mediator, and to hammer out a settlement before further harm is done to our local economy,” wrote Mayor Villaraigosa in his letter. “There is no time to waste.”

Mayor Villaraigosa’s letter was sent to International Longshore and Warehouse Union (Local 63-Office Clerical Unit) and the Harbor Employer Association which represents the terminal operators at the Port of Los Angeles

Meanwhile, we agree with the the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employees Assocation that ?the OCU’s actions mark a dangerous escalation in the ongoing labor dispute. If the OCU continues its strike, the negative effects on jobs and the economy will be felt nationwide.

?A visit to the ILWU website confirms that The OCU has attempted to justify its actions in the media by perpetuating myths that they are not fighting over money and that employers are taking away jobs. Here are the “myths” employers are trying to counter in the mainstream press.

??Myth #1: “The Employers are outsourcing jobs.”

?The Facts: This claim simply is not true. Not one OCU job has been sent overseas, or anywhere else. On the contrary, the employers have offered complete protection against outsourcing by providing:

• An absolute guarantee that no OCU workers will be laid off.

• Guaranteed full-time pay for 52 weeks a year, whether there is work to do or not.

• Grievance procedures that protect against diversion of OCU work by imposing monetary penalties every time a non-union employee performs union work (no matter how small the task), unless contractual exceptions allowing the work to be done apply.

• OCU access to computer database update histories and audit trails, allowing the OCU to investigate and ensure that no one is using technology to divert their work.

• Detailed procedures upon implementation of technology, requiring employers to disclose any impact on OCU work, respond to a series of information requests, and provide a comprehensive demonstration.

Myth #2: “Management is doing our work.”

The Facts: The OCU are making this claim to support 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. The OCU have no other evidence that any company has directed managers to perform union work.
?The real purpose behind this claim is to promote “featherbedding”-requiring employers to call in temporary employees and hire new permanent employees even when there is no work to perform. These unacceptable demands encourage and reward absenteeism, reduce efficiency, and do not justify the current strike or the union’s decision to shut down the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Myth #3: “This is not a dispute over money.”

?The Facts: The OCU rejected each employer’s latest wage and pension proposals, insisting that the employers’ proposal to increase OCU annual compensation packages to over $190,000 in wages and benefits by 2016 is not enough. The employers’ proposals would have given OCU employees average annual wages up to approximately $90,000 per year and pensions of up to $75,000 per year. The OCU have demanded more.


About the Author

Patrick Burnson
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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