Waterfront employers and office clerical workers in Southern California softened the tone of their rhetoric Tuesday and agreed to resume contract negotiations at 10 a.m. Pacific time.
Negotiations between the Office Clerical Unit of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 and the attorney representing 14 shipping lines and terminal operators at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach reached an impasse on Monday after a two-hour meeting. No new talks were scheduled.
Both sides apparently had a change of heart overnight. Stephen Berry, who represents the employers, confirmed that talks would resume Tuesday morning, and he said he hopes “something positive” will result.
If something positive is going to happen, though, both sides must be willing to budge from the positions they have adamantly maintained since the OCU contract expired in June 2010.
Berry said the OCU on Monday once again presented wage, benefits and work-rule demands that would result in a 49 percent increase in employer costs over the life of the contract. He called the demands “unacceptable.”
OCU President John Fageaux could not be reached, but he has stated previously that the OCU is seeking a wage increase in the low single digits. The union’s demands focus mostly on job preservation and ensuring that employers don’t use technology to transfer the work they do to non-union workers in other states or overseas.
Berry responded that the OCU wants to extend its jurisdiction basically around the world, from the point of cargo origin to the destination.
The OCU negotiations have taken on added significance since the coast arbitrator who adjudicates issues involving the ILWU dockworkers and the Pacific Maritime Association ruled in April that dockworkers will not violate their contract if they honor picket lines established by the OCU at marine terminals. The OCU’s leverage comes from convincing dockworkers to cease cargo-handling operations.
The OCU is affiliated with the ILWU but has its own contract. The dockworkers’ contract is in effect until July 2014.
The current round of negotiations involves only the OCU workers at the APM terminal in Los Angeles. Each of the 14 terminals and shipping lines that hire OCU workers has its own contract with the union.