ILWU Local 8 Should Pay Damages to Portland Shippers

 In ILWU, shippers

ILWU drives Hanjin out of Port of PortlandA federal judge has ordered the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) to pay $60,000 to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for violating a court order to return operations at the Port of Portland to normal, but the union’s actions have cost the port, community, and union itself much more.

Because of a labor dispute that has slowed operations and repeatedly shutdown operations at the Port of Portland’s Terminal 6, Hanjin quit calling on the Port of Portland.

Hanjin was the biggest service-providing carrier at the Port of Portland, handling almost 80% of the cargo shippers imported and exported through the port.

Seemingly too little, too late, a bipartisan group of legislators wrote a letter to the ILWU and ITCSI Oregon, the local arm of the Philippines based company that operates Terminal 6.

“We stand unified representing bipartisan leadership of the Oregon Legislature in calling for a fundamental and long-standing resolution of differences that will stabilize the T-6 operation and protect hundreds of ILWU jobs and thousands of trade-dependent jobs in our state,” according to the letter.

“We call upon each of you as leaders to come together as champions of our regional and national economy to foster a path forward that serves all our citizens and respective constituencies.”[1]

This letter comes after the economy in the region around the Port of Portland is suffering severe damage with their local shipping option lost.

Conrad Wilson wrote an article, published on OPB.org, which goes into the chaotic state shippers are in near the Port of Portland:

David Braman, the general manager of Mitchell Brothers Truck Line, said Hanjin’s departure has left many businesses that ship using containers in a state of “chaos.”

“We’re getting inundated with phone call after phone call from people looking for rates,” he said. “Nobody really knowing how they’re going to [get] their freight moved from point to point.”

While some businesses and farmers may turn to East Coast or Gulf ports, most of the goods that were moving through the Port of Portland are now heading to the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, Braman said.

Right now, businesses here have two options: Move containers by rail or truck.

But those trips to Puget Sound shipping terminals can be four times as costly as a trip to the Port of Portland.

Northwest Container, the rail option, has been so busy recently it’s had to close early most days and even turn containers away.

Braman said everything that can’t get on the train has to move by truck. And there’s a shortage there, too.

“There’s not enough equipment to service the area any more,” he said. “Something’s going to get left behind. And we’re all in that same predicament. There’s nobody here that’s up to this speed yet.”[2]

The ridiculous thing about this whole situation is that it all began with two jobs. Two jobs!

The ILWU wanted jurisdiction over two jobs, plugging and unplugging reefer containers, that have been worked by members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) since the 1930’s.

Maybe the ILWU is right in that ITCSI should have taken the two jobs away from the union that has worked them for generations and given the jobs to the ILWU since ITCSI is a PMA member. Maybe.

But what they did was put their desire to control every single possible job at the port over the interests of the port, carriers that call on the port, shippers that import and export through the port, the economy, and even the future stability of the ILWU’s own jobs at the port.

In my opinion, the selfish actions of the ILWU Local 8 are astounding.

Over two jobs, the union went about hard-timing the Port of Portland to the point of driving its biggest carrier away, seriously damaging the local economy, and costing the union many more jobs than the two they were attempting to gain.

Again, shippers could only look on and watch as their interests were damaged. If justice were really served, it’s shippers to whom the ILWU should have to pay damages.

What are your thoughts on the Port of Portland situation? Share them in the comments section below.

Previous blogs on labor dispute at Port of Portland:

Judge Rules ILWU Purposefully Slowed Import/Export @ Port of Portland

ILWU Takes Advantage of No Contract, Slowing Down Port of Portland

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