More than 10,000 members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) were locked out late Sunday by the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA). The lockout comes as “punishment” for what the PMA’s director Joseph Miniace is calling a slowdown by the union. The union disagrees.
From San Diego to the Canadian border, operations at some 30 West Coast ports have come to a halt until an agreement is reached on the key issue: the union’s role in the increasing use of technology to replace clerical jobs. The ILWU is demanding that its members run the equipment rather than staff of non-union employees.
Over three hundred billion dollars worth of cargo moves through the ports annually but the PMA insists that the new technology which includes the use of computers and bar code scanners are needed to increase Pacific rim trade.
According to a New York Times report, James Spinosa, the union’s president said the slowdown was being attributed to workers refusal to work overtime and a general concern for safety issues. Five longshoremen have died on the job over the past year.
In a recent report for the Inter Press Service, labor journalist David Bacon writes, “The traditional bargaining issues–wages, benefits and working conditions–have been pre-empted by a much more basic one: do dockers have the right to strike at all?”
- David Bacon, labor journalist.
- Jack Heyman, officer of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.