Longshore Union Resumes Threats of Work Slowdowns; PMA Chief Urges Union Back to Table to Continue Constructive Bargaining

Longshore Union Resumes Threats of Work Slowdowns;
PMA Chief Urges Union Back to Table to Continue Constructive Bargaining

SAN FRANCISCO (September 26, 2002) – Pacific Maritime Association President Joe Miniace, responding to public statements made by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, urged the union to return to the bargaining table prepared to reach agreement on all issues that remain, and cautioned the ILWU not to resume its past practice of work-slowdowns.  

“Based on the Union’s resolution, released today, it appears that the ILWU intends to cause problems on the docks.  We are concerned that the Union’s statements could be the beginning of hard-timing, or work slowdowns that could bring operations at the terminals to a stand-still.”

In fact, PMA member companies in Tacoma and Seattle are already seeing signs of a slowing of cargo movement in the wake of a public statement by the Union that all but gives license to members to interrupt operations at shipping terminals. 

“Over the past three years, the PMA has kept detailed records of cargo movement, by crane, by terminal and by port,” Miniace said.  “We will be able to detect slowdowns coastwide, and have said repeatedly that such actions will cause a collective and defensive response from our member companies.”

The Union’s public statements, indicating deadlock on the key issue of technology, come one day after agreement had apparently been reached on a vitally significant piece of the technology issue.  “We are disappointed and surprised by the Union’s apparent backing away from its agreement on a framework for technology implementation,” Miniace said. 

The PMA has guaranteed that currently registered marine clerks will be insulated from job impacts created by the implementation of technology.  The association also guaranteed in writing that the PMA would not shift traditional marine clerk work to anyone else.

“Technology is coming.  It is a necessity on the waterfront,” Miniace said.  “We had comprehensive and productive talks, and it is extremely disappointing that the Union is reacting by threatening work actions and dismissing the topic altogether,” he added.

As for the union’s request to negotiate issues other than technology, Miniace said: “All issues are open.  I am willing to negotiate with the Union on every issue that remains, including technology.”

The PMA has also proposed compensation increases, including a fully employer-paid health plan.  Miniace also made clear to union negotiators that PMA was prepared to increase pensions beyond the level originally proposed in July.  “The overall compensation package we’ve offered would make the ILWU members among the highest paid Union members in the world,” Miniace said.  “And that offer comes at a time in this country when many workers are facing wage freezes, layoffs and pension reductions.”

Said Miniace:  “But let me be clear: technology is not off the table.  Our members are committed to reaching agreement that includes the introduction of technology to the West Coast waterfront, which is vital to continued growth and competitiveness.”

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