International Longshore and Warehouse Union members this week are picketing a barge facility in southern Oregon to protest a lumber company’s use of non-ILWU labor to load and unload wood products at the newly opened facility.
This is the third jurisdictional dispute the ILWU has been engaged in at Pacific Northwest ports over the past 12 months. The dockworkers union successfully negotiated a contract with the EGT grain export terminal in Longview, Wash., after a year-long struggle.
The union is also engaged in a jurisdictional struggle with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the operator of Terminal 6 in Portland. That dispute is under litigation.
Southport Lumber Co. recently renovated a barge slip it had purchased from the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay. The ILWU used to work at the barge slip when it was owned by the port authority.
According to the ILWU, the union attempted to negotiate a contract with Southport Lumber, but the company wanted to reduce cargo-handling jobs and pay lower wages. The official spokesman for Southport Lumber is out of the office this week, and the company had no comment on the matter.
Martin Callery, chief commercial officer at the Coos Bay port authority, said the matter is a jurisdictional dispute between Southport Lumber and the ILWU. Callery said the ILWU has a long history of working at most, but not necessarily all, of the waterfront facilities in the region.
Protecting dockworker jurisdiction is front and center in union politics today. Harold Daggett, president of the International Longshoremen’s Association on the East and Gulf coasts, updated the ILWU’s 35th convention last month on the ILA’s struggle over the handling of military cargo in the South Atlantic.