After finally hearing the official tally of votes late Thursday from the union representing office clerical workers in Los Angeles-Long Beach, the organization that represents waterfront employers announced that all of the union’s bargaining units rejected the tentative contract that was agreed to on Dec. 4.
The Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association said the nation’s largest port complex was, however, working normally on Thursday.
The Office Clerical Unit of International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 voted Wednesday on a new contract that is scheduled to run until 2016. The office workers who process documentation at shipping lines and marine terminals had been working without a contract since Jun 2010.
In negotiations in late November and early December leading up to the Dec. 4 tentative contract agreement, office workers picketed 10 of the 14 terminals at the ports. The ILWU dockworkers refused to cross the picket lines, and the 10 terminals were shut down for eight days.
Employers indicated that all day Thursday the union refused to share the results of the vote with the employers association. Neither the union nor the employers returned phone calls. However, in conversations with individual employers, reports circulated that three of the 16 OCU bargaining units rejected the tentative agreement and the other units voted in favor of the contract.
Late Thursday, the employers association released the following statement: “In fact, the harbor employers were formally notified by the union today that in voting on Wednesday night all 16 OCU bargaining units failed to ratify the Dec. 4 tentative agreements.”
Unlike the ILWU dockworkers, who negotiate a coastwide contract, each company that employs OCU workers has its own contract. The situation Thursday was especially confusing because some employers had indicated earlier in the day that there was disagreement as to whether all of the agreements had to be approved to make the contracts valid, or if in the split vote those contracts that were supposedly approved would be considered valid and those that were not had to be renegotiated.
According to statements from employers after the tentative agreement was reached in December, office workers would earn on average $190,000 a year in wages and benefits by the end of the six-year agreement.