The International Longshore and Warehouse Union plans to appeal Monday’s ruling by the National Labor Relations Board that the handling of refrigerated containers at the Port of Portland falls under the jurisdiction of the electrical workers union rather than the ILWU.
Meanwhile, members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers as of Wednesday were back at Terminal 6 handling the plugging, unplugging and monitoring of reefer containers, said port authority spokesman Josh Thomas.
The IBEW had been handling reefer containers since Terminal 6 opened in the early 1970s, but when the jurisdictional dispute between the ILWU and IBEW broke out this summer, the electrical workers union agreed to turn that work over to the ILWU until the NLRB ruled on jurisdiction.
In what is known under NLRB rules as a 10(k) case, the board determined that the handling of refrigerated containers in Portland belongs to the IBEW.
Leal Sundet, ILWU coast committeeman, disputes that ruling, and in fact said the NLRB has no authority in this matter. He said all waterfront work at West Coast ports is governed by the coast-wide contract negotiated by the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association.
“The ILWU is convinced that the 10(k) ruling is wrong under the law. We will be making the board prove its case at a trial and ultimately before the federal appeals court. This is just the beginning of the legal fight,” Sundet said.
PMA President Jim McKenna said that when ICTSI was named the operator of Terminal 6 in Portland last year, the company applied for membership in the PMA. At that time, ICTSI should have notified the waterfront employers association that it had an agreement with the IBEW for the reefer work.
NLRB appeals can be lengthy, and the port authority had to move quickly to ensure there would be labor to work the reefer containers this week. The agreement this summer between the ILWU and IBEW stipulated that the union named by the NLRB as having jurisdiction over the reefer work would perform that work, and that is what occurred on Wednesday, Thomas said.
The IBEW was handling the reefer containers Wednesday on a Hapag-Lloyd vessel. Shipping companies Hanjin and Westwood have vessel calls scheduled this weekend.
Thomas said cargo handling at Terminal 6 was proceeding without interruption on Wednesday.