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Two Unions at Odds Over Terminal 6 Jobs

by Joe Smith
KGW, June 20, 2012

(Ross William Hamilton) Terminal 6, usually stacked full of containers, has relatively few boxes waiting for shipping abroad, as steamship lines bypass Portland because of labor disputes. PORTLAND - Two unions are at loggerheads over job jurisdiction at Terminal 6 at the Port of Portland, resulting in a slowdown of goods moving in and out of the port.

Even some ships are avoiding using the port.

Both sides say they want to work together, but so far haven't worked out a way to do it.

"I spent five hours here one day," truck driver Doug Miller said. "They work slow, they move but you can walk faster."

The drivers are the victim of a riff between two unions, Longshore Local 8 and IBEW Local 48.

"At face value, the dispute is over who is going to do reefer work, "said Normal Malbin, General Counsel for IBEW.

Reefer work is plugging, unplugging and monitoring refrigerated containers. It's a job IBEW members have historically done for the past 38 years. But, now Longshore members say it's their job.

"We were not the ones who started this fight," said Dane Johns, spokesperson for ILWU.

John blames Terminal 6 ICTSI for not honoring an agreement reached in 2008 with the Pacific Maritime Association, covering all West Coasts ports.

"In that contract, it was already agreed upon that the specific job function, about plugging and plugging reefers would be assigned to Longshoreman," said Johns.

Executives from ICTSI, would not comment, referring the matter to Terminal 6 landlord, The Port of Portland, which issued a statement:

"The Port of Portland is and will continue pursuing every legal means to end the ILWU work slowdowns and stoppages at Oregon's only international container shipping terminal, so that it can continue to play its vital economic role in our region. We will continue to honor our contracts and aggressively defend those who contract with us."

Meanwhile, the dispute has put the two unions at bitter odds.

"When somebody comes along and says 'we want to take away your job,' we just can't roll over and allow that to occur," said Malbin. "Anytime two unions fight, they both lose."

Another hearing will be held Friday June 22nd, to determine what economic impact the slowdown is causing, which could result in a temporary restraining order, ordering Longshoremen back to normal productivity.

Joe Smith
Two Unions at Odds Over Terminal 6 Jobs
KGW, June 20, 2012

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