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Economic and dam related articles

Judge Delays $93 Million Payout
in Longshore Union Case

by Conrad Wilson
Oregon Public Broadcasting, November 8, 2019

Being ordered to pay more than $93 million in penalties would cause it significant harm.

At the Port of Portland, with shipping container service dropping to a fraction of what it once was, cranes sit idle and the docks are empty. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon has delayed entering a $93 million judgement against the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

"The amount of damages found by the jury is quite high and may result in the bankruptcy of a union that traces its beginnings to at least 1933 and arguably into the 19th century," Simon said in his order issued Friday.

On Monday, a jury handed a victory to ICTSI Oregon, the former operator of Terminal 6 at the Port of Portland. It was at the time, the state's sole operating container ship port.

Following a two-week trial, a jury found the union engaged in unlawful labor practices at times between Aug. 14, 2013 and March 31, 2017. The jury also found those labor practices were a major factor in causing damages to ICTSI. The jury determined 55% of the award must be paid by the ILWU and 45% by Local 8, the Portland chapter.

The company and the union were engaged in a yearslong labor dispute that eventually led to the loss of Portland's container ship service in May 2016.

On Thursday, ICTSI asked Simon to enter the jury's judgement.

"ICTSI respectfully requests that the Court . . . immediately enter judgment on the jury verdict," attorney Michael Garone wrote in court filings.

The union has acknowledged it may owe something. But on Friday it replied that being ordered to pay more than $93 million in penalties would cause it significant harm.

"The ILWU, on the other hand, has explained that it will be forced into bankruptcy once judgment is entered, unless ICTSI agrees not to enforce it -- and ICTSI has made clear that it will seek to enforce the judgment as soon as it can," Dan Jackson, attorney for the ILWU, wrote in court papers.

As recently as 2015, Portland had weekly container ship service. But the carriers complained it was taking too long to load and unload ships because of a nearly three-year local labor dispute between the ILWU and its then-employer, ICTSI Oregon.

There have been efforts to revive container service at the port, but those efforts have limped along.

Simon said he would "briefly delay entry of judgement," but wants the two sides to propose a post-trial briefing schedule by Nov. 13.

Conrad Wilson
Judge Delays $93 Million Payout in Longshore Union Case
Oregon Public Broadcasting, November 8, 2019

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