The National Labor Relations Board’s regional office said the International Longshore and Warehouse Union engaged in unfair labor practices by slowing work at the Port of Portland, Ore., in a jurisdictional dispute with another union.
The complaint by the board’s acting general counsel clears the way for a temporary restraining order against the ILWU this week, with a possible injunction to follow if problems continue. The ILWU will have an opportunity to answer the NLRB’s findings at an Aug. 14 hearing.
Since the dispute erupted two weeks ago, the port has been hit with delays that have caused truck backups up to a mile long on some days.
In a strongly worded 19-page ruling, Ronald K. Hooks, director of the NLRB’s regional office in Seattle, said the longshore union engaged in slowdowns after ILWU Coast Committeeman Leo Sundet threatened to make ICTSI Oregon “pay the price” if the company didn’t hire ILWU labor to plug in, unplug and monitor refrigerated containers at Portland’s Terminal 6.
The work has been performed by members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers since Terminal 6 opened in the early 1970s. When the port signed a 25-year lease with ICTSI last year, the lease specified the IBEW would retain the work.
The ILWU contends its contract with the Pacific Maritime Association requires ICTSI to hire ILWU labor.
The ILWU and the PMA have asked a federal court to issue an injunction to give the work to the longshore union.
The NLRB’s unfair-labor-practices complaint detailed a series of ILWU slowdown tactics. They included simultaneous coffee breaks, slow driving of reach-stacking cranes, a crane operator refusing to enter the crane for 30 minutes because of diesel fumes, ILWU clerks and planners refusing to tell IBEW electricians when reefer boxes were arriving, and parking a pickup truck where it would block access to stacks of reefer units.
The ILWU has denied engaging in slowdowns.
Port Director Bill Wyatt said the number of workers who plug, unplug and monitor reefer boxes is based on activity at the terminal but that over a year they average the equivalent of two full-time jobs.
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