The National Labor Relations Board has found the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) guilty of intentional slowdowns at the Port of Portland. Joseph Rose has the story at the Oregonian.
The 18-page decision, (PDF) written by administrative law judge Jeffrey D. Wedekind in San Francisco, orders ILWU and its Local 8 and Local 40 affiliates in Portland “to cease and desist from engaging in such unlawful secondary conduct.”
For two years, the ILWU, which loads and unloads cargo at port terminals, has been engaged in increasingly nasty disputes with ICTSI Oregon, the Philippine-owned conglomerate that operates Terminal 6 for the Port under a 25-year lease.
In recent years, the Port has become concerned about the pace of work at Oregon’s only deep-draft container yard. Slow work, labor disputes and cargo-handling interruptions have backed up trucks, delayed and rerouted ships, spawned lawsuits and almost persuaded Hanjin Shipping Co. to end its weekly Portland vessel calls.
The ILWU has refused to cooperate with Gov. John Kitzhaber’s analysis of the situation at the container terminal, calling it a “sham.”
The union has long blamed business decisions by ICTSI, noting that it has no motive to make operations less efficient.
Wedekind found plenty of evidence that the ILWU and Local 8 encouraged longshoremen “to unnecessarily operate cranes and drive trucks in a slow and nonproductive manner, refuse to hoist cranes in bypass mode, and refuse to move two 20-foot containers at a time on older carts, in order to force or require ICTSI and carriers who call at terminal 6 to cease doing business with the Port.”
Among other things, the dispute involves who should be plugging, unplugging and monitoring refrigerated containers after they are unloaded from vessels at Terminal 6, Wedekind wrote.
Many of the drivers refused to comply with a foreman’s order to take the direct route until after they were threatened dismissal, the documents show.
Wedekind said his ruling could lead to contempt sanctions against the union.
The ILWU has not responded to the ruling, which is the second of its kind in recent months.