The contract covering about 950 office clerical workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach expires at midnight Wednesday, and it does not appear that an agreement will be reached by the deadline.
“I’m not optimistic at all about reaching an agreement by June 30,” said John Fageaux, president of the Office Clerical Unit of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63.
Office clerical workers process bookings and other documentation at marine terminals in the port complex. The OCU is affiliated with ILWU Local 63, the marine clerks division, but office clerical workers have a separate contract.
Unlike dockworkers, who negotiate contracts with the Pacific Maritime Association, the office clerical workers negotiate with an attorney who represents the terminal operators.
Fageaux said job security is the key issue in the contract negotiations. Employers want to implement technology that would allow workers overseas to perform duties now handled by OCU members, thereby downsizing the ranks of the union, he said.
Wages and benefits have yet to be discussed in the negotiations, Fageaux said. If progress is not made by Tuesday afternoon, the union leaders will call a strike authorization vote. OCU members earn around $80,000 a year under the current three-year contract.
Even if union members authorize a strike, it is not clear at this point if a job action will result immediately. Next weekend will be a slow time in the harbor with the July 4 holiday and the annual Bloody Thursday July 5 holiday in which the ILWU commemorates the 1934 San Francisco general strike that led to the founding of the union.
-- Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at email@example.com.