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Judge Bars ILWU from Slowdowns at Portland

by Bill Mongelluzzo
Journal of Commerce, July 4, 2012

Temporary restraining order comes a day before Hapag-Lloyd vessel is due to call

 (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer) The Port of Portland's Terminal 6 is shown Friday, June 29, 2012, in Portland, Ore. A U.S. District Court judge on Tuesday issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the International Longshore and Warehouse Union from engaging in work slowdowns at the Port of Portland's container terminal.

The ILWU has been engaged in a month-long jurisdictional dispute with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers over the handling of refrigerated containers at Terminal 6.

Judge Michael Simon's 10-day TRO comes just in time as a Hapag-Lloyd vessel is due in port on Wednesday. Josh Thomas, a Port of Portland spokesman, said vessel operations will occur even though July 4 is a holiday for the ILWU. "The port is open for business," he said.

An agreement announced Tuesday by all of the parties in the dispute clears the way for cargo loading and unloading to take place. The port, terminal operator ICTSI, the ILWU and the IBEW announced the ILWU would work the reefer jobs until a separate legal proceeding before the National Labor Relations Board results in a ruling.

The ILWU charges that its contract with the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents waterfront employers on the West Coast, provides longshoremen with jurisdiction over what amounts to the equivalent of two jobs involving the plugging, unplugging and monitoring of reefer containers at Terminal 6.

The IBEW, however, has been performing that work since the 1970s. Two years ago, the port signed an agreement with international terminal operator ICTSI to operate Terminal 6. ICTSI continued to use IBEW members, but last month the ILWU, along with the PMA, sued the port and ICTSI for jurisdiction over the reefer work.

At Tuesday's court hearing, all of the parties announced that in order to maintain peace on the waterfront and keep Terminal 6 operating, an agreement was reached to let ILWU members perform the work until the NLRB ruled on the jurisdictional issue.

The NLRB could take weeks, or longer, Thomas said. The port views Simon's ruling as a "step in the right direction" to keep Terminal 6 operating until the NLRB settles the jurisdictional dispute.

In addition to the Hapag-Lloyd vessel due on Wednesday, Westwood Shipping has a vessel call scheduled for July 20, a call the company said would occur as scheduled. Hanjin Shipping, however, announced earlier that is was suspending vessel calls in Portland until it could be assured its ships would be handled in a normal fashion.

Bill Mongelluzzo
Judge Bars ILWU from Slowdowns at Portland
Journal of Commerce, July 4, 2012

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