Feds: Electricians, Not Longshoremen,
by Richard Read
The National Labor Relations Board decided Monday that union electricians, not longshoremen, are entitled to two jobs that were the subject of a bitter dispute clogging cargo at the Port of Portland.
In a five-page ruling, the Washington, D.C.-based board rejected longshore arguments that members of their union were entitled to the work plugging, unplugging and monitoring refrigerated containers, called reefers. Problems related to the dispute led to mile-long lines of trucks at the Port this summer and caused container vessels to bypass Portland.
The NLRB decision is a big loss for the longshore union, which also faces a federal trial resuming Monday in Portland on accusations that a union representative made threats related to the dispute. Longshoremen who took over the reefer work this summer have continued doing it, while electricians have stood aside to keep the peace.
Leaders of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 48, hailed the decision.
"There was clearly not any doubt in our mind this was always the work of the IBEW," said Clif Davis, Local 48 business manager.
But an International Longshore and Warehouse Union leader said he doesn't view the decision as binding.
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