Friday, August 17, 2012
ILWU sues Port of Portland in federal court
On Thursday the International Longshore and Warehouse Union filed suit against the Port of Portland, Ore. and its executive director Bill Wyatt in federal court. The suit alleges that the port illegally gave public monies to private terminal operator ICTSI Oregon and several ocean carriers to compensate them for money lost due to delays caused by the union struggle.
This move by the ILWU was a reaction to Monday’s decision by the National Labor Relations Board that the two disputed port jobs that involve plugging, unplugging, and monitoring refrigerated container units could continue to be filled by members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, who have worked those jobs since 1974.
The port gave $4.7 million to ICTSI Oregon, the port’s private terminal operator, and tens of thousands more to shipping lines, after the union dispute reportedly caused major cargo back-ups and container-ship diversions to other Pacific Northwest container ports until a resolution was in hand.
The ILWU lawsuit is asking for an injunction against the payouts, claiming they violate federal labor laws.
“Our lawsuit aims to stop the Port’s direct interference in a private labor dispute and to keep the money in public hands, where it can be invested in local infrastructure and for other purposes that serve the public good,” said Leal Sundet, ILWU Coast Committeeman and resident of Clackamas County.
The summer-long, contentious dispute at Oregon’s biggest seaport has pit the ILWU and its employer group, the Pacific Maritime Association, against the port, Manila-based terminal operator, ICTSI, and the IBEW.
In its ruling on Monday, the NLRB said: “Where, as here, a union is claiming work for employees who have not previously performed it, the objective is not work preservation, but work acquisition."
On Wednesday the Oregonian reported the NLRB’s regional director in Seattle, Ronald Hooks, said the only way an appeals process could be instigated would be for longshoremen to defy the agency’s decision, which would cause the agency to seek a federal injunction.
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