PMA Statement – October 1, 2002

PMA Statement – October 1, 2002

Let me start by addressing the Union’s allegation about Mr. Miniace’s security detail.

Due to unfortunate circumstances, we made the decision several days ago to employ a security detail for our lead negotiator, Joe Miniace. 

At that time there was good reason to believe that security was necessary.  That position has not changed.

Now onto the critical issues at hand in the contract negotiations.

As you saw clearly over the past 24 hours, the PMA and ILWU are having an extremely difficult time engaging in constructive talks.

And all the while, the ports remain shutdown because of the Union’s strike actions against the shipping companies.  Because of the Union, the ports are closed for a second day. 

The Union has now openly acknowledged in public statements that they staged work actions against the shipping companies that prompted our defensive shutdown of West Coast ports.

Initially, we kept the ports open despite disruptions.

We re-opened the ports after a “cooling off” period, and the result was an escalation of the Union’s strike actions.

Let me be very clear on this point:  the PMA wants the ports opened.

We’re asking the Union to sign an extension of the contract they have worked under for more than three years.

The Union signed these daily contract extensions on a daily basis in July and August. 

Then they abruptly stopped.  And not coincidentally, the slowdowns began.

Slowdowns are illegal under the contract.  That’s why they won’t extend it.

At this point, you have to question whether the Union wants to solve this dispute.

They started with slowdowns, knowing we would be forced to play defense and shut down the terminals. 

They failed to extend the contract.  They have our guarantee:  Sign the contract extension and ports will get back to work.

Yesterday, the Union refused to accept the Federal Mediator’s invitation to come to Washington D.C. to begin the process of mediation.

Today, they walked out of a meeting with the Federal Mediator before the meeting ever started.

PMA has asked for assurances that the Union will refrain from work slowdowns, and they’ve flat out refused to provide that assurance.

Yesterday, the Union said that technology was off the table.

Now they’re asking that we replace our negotiating team.  That’s like asking Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling to sit out the World Series.  No chance.

If this isn’t a situation where mediation is required, I don’t know what is.

Here is where PMA stands right now.

We will accept federal mediation.

We will accept California Governor Davis’ offer of state mediation. 

We will accept Los Angeles Mayor Hahn’s offer to facilitate the discussion.

We will open the ports if the Union extends the contract they worked under for the past three years.

Our message to the Union is to stop saying “no” and instead say “yes”   to opening the ports.

Take one simple action:  sign the contract extension.

By failing to do so, the ILWU is closing off commerce in this country, and the impacts are compounding every day.

Ask the truck drivers who have no loads to carry.

Ask the toy importers in downtown Los Angeles whose livelihoods are being held hostage in cargo containers anchored off the coast.

Ask the workers at automobile assembly plants who operate on just-in-time delivery.

Ask the four million workers in this country whose livelihoods depend on these ports operating.

With that as the backdrop, what’s the Union’s rationale for keeping the ports closed?

Our message to the ILWU is clear:  return to the bargaining table.  Sign a contract extension that will enable the ports to re-open.  Say yes to mediation. 

No more excuses.

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