The Facts on Slowdowns, Technology and Jurisdiction Versus What the ILWU Is Telling You

The Facts on Slowdowns, Technology and Jurisdiction Versus What the ILWU Is Telling You

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.  (September 28, 2002) -- The International Longshore and Warehouse Union continues to deny the existence of Union-sanctioned work slowdowns as well as make misleading statements about technology proposals and issues related to Union jurisdiction.  The following is a summary of what the Union is saying versus a description of the facts.

Myth #1:

The ILWU has not engaged in work slowdowns.  The cargo volume is at record levels and we are just working safely.

The Facts:

The Union staged significant slowdown work actions at ports from Seattle to Los Angeles, with productivity levels dropping by as much as 90 percent.  The Union’s work action came 24 hours after the ILWU negotiating committee rejected a negotiated tentative agreement on a new framework for implementing technology to the West Coast waterfront.  Crane moves per hour plummeted in some cases to three moves per hour, or one-tenth of normal productivity.   PMA has monitored productivity by terminal, by crane and by vessel for three years, and it became clear last week that the productivity levels fell off the cliff.

Myth #2:

The Industry’s arbitration process doesn’t need to be fixed.

The Facts:

The current Coast Arbitrator has been in the position since 1948 and would like to retire.  PMA proposes a professional neutral arbitrator while the Union seeks an arbitrator with Industry ties that might not be neutral or have recognized certification as a professional arbitrator.

Myth #3:

The PMA is going to use technology to outsource ILWU work.

The Facts:

PMA has guaranteed the traditional work of clerks at terminals will continue to be performed as stated in the Employers’ Proposal:

“The Employers shall guarantee all currently registered marine clerks covered under the PCCCD a full opportunity to work as marine clerks, and such clerks shall not be subject to Item 11, Supplement I-A.  Currently registered marine clerks will be guaranteed forty hours’ pay each week per Section 20.2 of the PCCCD for the term of this Agreement.”



Myth #4:

PMA member companies are illegally moving ILWU clerk jobs to non-union personnel located in other inland states. 

The Facts:

Not true.  The Union is looking to expand its jurisdiction to include vessel planning jobs.  More than 25 years ago, the Union attempted to expand its jurisdiction to include these jobs, but a precedent-setting arbitration ruling (SC-57-79) established such work was not part of clerks’ jurisdiction.  The Union is certainly free to try to organize these workers.  In the last five years, the Union has attempted to organize vessel planners and has been successful at a few terminals in the Los Angeles/Long Beach port areas.   ILWU attempts to organize workers at other companies have failed.

Myth #5:

The Union’s “technology proposal” will save PMA millions of dollars annually.

The Facts:

Actually, the Union’s proposal would cost an additional $185 million each year,  according to the research findings of outside consultants.  These additional costs are attributed, in great part, to the increased minimum manning scales demanded by the ILWU.  In contrast, the PMA’s projects total savings from its technology proposal would be $160 million per year, assuming that technology is implemented at every terminal.  This is the best case scenario, and in reality, smaller terminals and operations may not be able to realize the potential technology savings.  The financial gap of the two proposals is $345 million annually. 

Myth #6:

The ILWU technology proposal enables the free flow of information.

The Facts:

The Union’s technology proposal limits the free flow of information to suit the Union’s jurisdictional priorities.  The net effect of the proposal is to solidify the Union’s claim that information entering a terminal computer system belongs to ILWU clerks’ jurisdiction, and any manipulation of that information – whether to access it, forward it, update it or delete it – can only be done by an ILWU clerk.  The Union is trying to maintain control of information when systems abound to transmit it electronically.  The UPS and Federal Express cargo tracking systems are two such examples.

Myth #7:

ILWU clerks are not restricting the use of technology.

The Facts:

Shippers, trucking lines, and shipping lines currently have the internet ability to access cargo information at a terminal anytime to check the status of their goods.  This capability is available instantly, and similar systems are used at port terminals in other parts of the United States and around the world.   The ILWU would restrict anyone, other than a clerk, from maintaining those sources of information, even if the information is to be changed by the shipping line which originated the original booking information. 

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