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Commentaries and editorials

Judge's Ruling on Labor Actions
Doesn't Silence Union-Port War of Words

by Jim Redden
Portland Tribune, October 1, 2011

Although very little work is happening at Terminal 6 at the Port of Portland, its operator and the union representing the workers there are continuing to spar.

On Wednesday, ICTSI Oregon, which operates the container terminal, issued a press released trumpeting a National Labor Relations Board ruling affirming an administrative law judge's ruling that ILWU Local 80 cease and desist a number of unfair labor practices, including work slowdowns.

"We are gratified by the NLRB's ruling, which rejected all of the ILWU's legal arguments. Hopefully, this decision will bring us one step closer to ending the ILWU's orchestrated and illegal campaign to undermine the success of Terminal 6 and to convincing the shipping companies to return to the Port of Portland," said Elvis Ganda, ICTSI Oregon chief executive officer.

The initial ruling concerned union activities from several years ago, however. Since then, two major shipping lines serving Terminal 6 have pulled out of Portland. Now, it only gets monthly visits from Westwood Shipping.

In response to the NLRB's most recent ruling, the ILWU issued a statement calling it meaningless and promising to appeal it to the courts.

"The National Labor Relations Board's decision is not enforceable or binding. It simply adopts an administrative law judge's earlier rulings, without bothering to state any explanation or legal reasoning. Nor does the NLRB's decision attempt to correct or comment on the administrative judge's failure to even consider, let alone apply, the controlling Supreme Court precedent covering the longshore industry. And contrary to the propaganda assertions made by ICTSI, the NLRB decision does not speak to any activity at Terminal 6 other than a short period of time during 2012," said Leal Sundet, ILWU coast committeeman.

"Although we are obviously disappointed, we are not surprised. In fact, by not correcting the many legal errors made by the administrative law judge, the NLRB's decision actually maintains conditions that will give the ILWU even stronger arguments on appeal. The ILWU will be promptly filing an appeal with the federal circuit court and, if necessary, the U.S. Supreme Court. We expect a better hearing of our arguments and certainly more consideration of the law when we get before the appeals court."In their dueling statements, both Ganda and Sundet said new replacement shipping lines must be recruited to Terminal 6.

"A fully functioning, productive Terminal 6 is critical to the regional economy and benefits local businesses, importers, exporters, farmers and workers across various industries -- including rank-and-file ILWU longshoremen who have suffered a substantial loss of work as a result of their leaderships' actions," said Ganda.

"The ILWU has always been available to work with ICTSI to improve the company's operations in Portland, which is the Philippines-based company's first attempt to manage a port in the United States. Unfortunately, ICTSI has refused to engage in any discussions with the union to improve productivity. All other terminals at the Port of Portland are productive with the same ILWU workforce that is available to ICTSI, and we hope that ICTSI will consider improving its management of Terminal 6 and give the region the port it needs and deserves," said Sundet.

The recent NLRB ruling can be found at www.nlrb.gov/case/19-CC-082533.


Jim Redden
Judge's Ruling on Labor Actions Doesn't Silence Union-Port War of Words
Portland Tribune, October 1, 2011

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