Comments by Joseph Miniace President and CEO Pacific Maritime Association October 7, 2002

Comments by Joseph Miniace
President and CEO
Pacific Maritime Association
October 7, 2002

The officers of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union walked out of talks last night.

The Union rejected a comprehensive proposal that would make their members the absolute envy of the blue collar workforce in America.

Annual full time wages of $114,500 for longshoremen.  $137,500 for marine clerks.

We offered a health care plan that provides 100% coverage, with no premiums…no deductibles.

The PMA increased our pension fund offer by $1 billion.  We felt that was a major step that could bring these contract talks to a conclusion.

Under that plan, longshoremen would receive a lifetime benefit of $50,000 a year.  That’s more than the average salary for a worker in America.

We offered the Union job guarantees for any workers whose jobs might be impacted by the introduction of technology.  Not one longshoreman will lose his or her job as the result of technology.

Finally, and very importantly, the PMA offered the union a 90-day extension of the old contract while the details of the new contract are worked out.  That extension would have enabled the ports to re-open as early as today.

That’s what PMA calls a comprehensive offer.  Let me tell you how the Union responded.

The Union said “no” to PMA’s comprehensive offer.

The Union said “no” to the contract extension.

The Union also said “no” to technology. 

The PMA was hopeful that we could re-open the ports today. 

My message last night to the Union was simple and clear:  It’s time to put the nation’s interests ahead of our own.

That is why PMA came in with a comprehensive contract proposal.  One of the best, if not the best, in America.

I’d like to conclude by talking about the importance of modernizing the West Coast ports.

Our ports are falling further and further behind our counterparts around the world.

In some cases, we are still using chalk to track containers at a time when bar code scanners, like the ones you see at the corner grocery store, could track them far more quickly and efficiently.

Union clerks re-key information for cargo containers, rather than allowing that information to flow electronically.  That’s like receiving an e-mail, and re-keying in all of the information rather clicking a button to forward it.

As America has learned over the past weeks, these ports are a critical part of our economy.  We have a mandate to modernize these ports.  Doing so will create new jobs, spur economic growth, and secure our competitive standing in the world.

As it relates to a Taft-Hartley injunction, I’d like to say the following.  The PMA gave the union every opportunity to get our ports up and running without government intervention.  We gave them the premier contract offer in America, and we offered to re-open the ports by extending the old contract for 90 days.

They decided to reject our offers, and walk out of talks indefinitely.

You just can’t play those kinds of games with the U.S. economy.

I’m happy to take questions.