In a welcome sign of cooperation, office clerical workers and waterfront employers in Southern California met through the day on Wednesday, recessing the talks at 9 p.m. Contract negotiations for the 600-member Office Clerical Unit of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 were scheduled to resume Thursday.
There are no initial reports of what transpired in Wednesday’s talks, but the fact that the OCU and the Harbor Employers’ Association have met every day this week is of itself a sign of progress.
The workers who process shipping documents and perform other clerical functions have been working without a contract since June 2010. Negotiations the past two years have been sporadic, with gaps between negotiating sessions sometimes lasting for months. Recent negotiating sessions often lasted a day or less.
Cargo interests are watching developments closely as the peak shipping season draws closer. The OCU could impact cargo-handling at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex if its members posted pickets at the terminals and if ILWU dockworkers chose to honor the pickets.
The coast arbitrator who handles disputes between ILWU dockworkers and the Pacific Maritime Association ruled in April that longshoremen would not violate their contract if they chose to honor OCU pickets. The office workers and dockworkers are affiliated, but they have separate contracts.