Marine terminal operators in Los Angeles and Long Beach reported Friday that cargo-handling was operating normally despite a contract dispute between office clerical workers and employers.
The Office Clerical Unit of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 broke off negotiations Wednesday with the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association. The OCU workers process transportation documents and perform other clerical tasks at the offices of shipping lines and marine terminals.
The OCU has been working without a contract for two years. Negotiations have been sporadic, and the talks that were held earlier this week were the first face-to-face negotiations this year.
When the talks broke off, primarily because of differences of opinions on the role of technology, terminal operators expressed concern over the possibility of pickets at their facilities.
The OCU’s main leverage is to post its members at the terminals in an attempt to get ILWU dockworkers to honor the pickets. On two previous occasions the past two years, ILWU dockworkers refused to cross the picket lines, but an area arbitrator ordered the longshoremen back to work, ruling that the OCU did not have a legitimate picket line.
However, the coast arbitrator in April overruled the area arbitrator and said the ILWU dockworkers had a legal right to honor the OCU picket lines.
When the OCU broke off negotiations earlier this week, terminal operators feared that pickets could materialize. OCU President John Fageaux on Thursday declined to comment as to whether his members would picket the marine terminals.