Port of Portland Workers Tried to Force Shipper to Abandon Port

The protracted disputes at the Port of Portland took another turn recently when an Administrative Law Judge for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a preliminary decision and recommended order on May 30, 2014 that, for the period of September 2012 to June 2013, longshore workers employed at Terminal 6 engaged in unfair labor practices by driving trucks slowly, refusing to hoist cranes in bypass mode, and refusing to move more than one 20-foot shipping container of freight at a time on older trailers in an effort to force management company International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI) to abandon the port, according to HandyShippingGuide.com, a U.K-based shipping news source.

The latest episode comes after rulings on who was contracted to work on reefer boxes as they passed through the supply chain. A previous judge took the view that the electricians, employed by the port, had responsibility for plugging, unplugging and monitoring refrigerated containers, not the longshoremen who work for Philippine group ICTSI.

In the judge’s opinion,n this was traditionally the status quo, whereas the unions believed that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s (ILWU) 2008 coastwise labor agreement with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) meant responsibility for these works had transferred to its members. For 36 years, the work was the responsibility of the port, but the union maintains that, when the terminal management transferred to ICTSI, so did responsibility for the equipment concerned and the PMA deemed it to be an ILWU staff job.

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