Sad Port Story Finally Concludes with ILWU Paying Over $20M

 In container shipping, Container Shipping & Transport, ILWU, International Shipping, Port of Portland, shippers

Maybe this will finally be the last time I write about this story. The International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) will at last pay one of the parties it wronged at the Port of Portland, concluding a drama that dragged on for over a decade.

During a five-year time span, the ILWU executed illegal labor actions against the Port of Portland. Despite rulings against it, the union persisted in slowing down operations at the port in order to gain control over two jobs that had always belonged to another union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). The jobs involved plugging and unplugging reefer containers. You know, electricity-related work that it’s not surprising electrical workers did. But, hey, the jobs were at a port, and the ILWU is adamant about taking control of every job at the ports.

ILWU’s slowdowns became so disruptive to operations at the Port of Portland that ocean freight carriers had to stop calling on the port with container ships altogether. This was, of course, extremely expensive for the terminal operator ICTSI Oregon, but also for shippers, and even for the ILWU itself.

Before even getting to the millions the union is now paying, there were about three years when no container ships were calling on the Port of Portland. That means three years of lost union jobs. But maybe it was worth it to the union for those members’ jobs to no longer be there. After all, the ILWU got to flex its muscle, showing everyone how powerful it is.

The ILWU won’t be paying ICTSI nearly as much as it could have been. Originally, the US District Court ordered the ILWU to pay $93 million. So, the ILWU and its Local 8 chapter, which executed the labor actions, filed for bankruptcy. Now the union has settled with ICTSI, as Bill Mongelluzzo reported last week in a Journal of Commerce (JOC) article:

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and ICTSI Oregon said Thursday they have settled a long-running legal dispute in a deal that will pay ICTSI $20.5 million and end the ILWU’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. 

“The ILWU settlement arises from the parties’ participation in several days of mediation during ILWU’s chapter 11 bankruptcy case, which will be voluntarily dismissed as part of the terms of the settlement,” the parties said in a joint statement. 

If you want to revisit the drama, here are some related posts Universal Cargo published through the years:

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