Negotiations between office clerical workers and terminal operators in Los Angeles-Long Beach are scheduled to resume on Wednesday morning as both parties intend to spend Tuesday caucusing internally.
The Office Clerical Unit of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 on Monday removed its pickets. The pickets remained down on Tuesday and cargo handling at the port complex proceeded normally.
OCU President John Fageaux said negotiations Monday produced "some progress" on minor issues, although the core issues were not addressed.
Stephen Berry, the attorney representing 14 shipping lines and terminal operators, said negotiators are closing out smaller contract points, such as when vacation days are to be used, but those issues will soon be exhausted and negotiators will have no choice but to address the core issues.
Both sides have drawn a line in the sand on the use of technology. Employers want to maintain the use of computer portals to allow cargo interests and third parties to file cargo bookings directly into the systems of shipping lines and terminal operators without clerical intervention.
Fageaux charged that employers are abusing the process, opening the portals so wide that they are in effect outsourcing work that has traditionally been performed by OCU members.
Berry responded that the contract provides a grievance framework under which alleged abuses are to be addressed. Also, employers continue to guarantee there will be no transfer of work and no lay-offs. "That's the answer to their concerns," he said.
A second core issue is the demand of employers for flexibility in assigning manpower. The contract mandates that when an office worker does not report to duty due to illness or vacation, the union will assign a replacement worker from the hiring hall.
Employers charge that replacement workers are not always needed, such as when work is slow, so they should not be required to hire replacements in those cases. Fageaux responded that the contract allows employers to seek relief in such instances, and the union has agreed on numerous occasions to allow positions to remain unfilled.
There has been little bargaining so far on wages and benefits. The two sides are far apart on this issue, but Fageaux said the union does not consider it to be a major issue in this year's negotiations.
The average OCU member last year earned $96,900, with benefits adding another $66,000 to that total, employers said.
-- Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at firstname.lastname@example.org.