The International Longshore and Warehouse Union will take to a federal appellate court its jurisdictional battle over the handling of refrigerated containers at the Port of Portland, the ILWU stated in a press release.
The union was responding to a decision Aug. 28 by a National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge that two jobs handling reefer containers at Portland’s Terminal 6 fall under the jurisdiction of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and not the ILWU.
The matter has become such a bone of contention in Portland over the past year that it has frayed relations between the union and the port, leading to work slow-downs and diversion of some vessel calls to other ports.
As with many cases that are handled by the courts and federal agencies, the Portland case has continued on for many months.
The case is complex because Portland for many years was an operating port. It had a contract with the IBEW to plug, unplug and monitor reefer containers at its Terminal 6. However, international terminal operator ICTSI two years ago took over operation of the container terminal. ICTSI is a member of the coastwide bargaining organization for waterfront employers, the Pacific Maritime Association.
Since the contracts held by most PMA member companies are with the ILWU, the dockworkers union claimed jurisdiction over the reefer jobs. Last summer, the NLRB administrative law judge ruled that the jobs should remain with the IBEW. The ALJ reaffirmed that decision on Wednesday.
The ILWU stated that the ALJ’s recommended order “is based on a grossly-flawed assumption that the port controls the disputed work of monitoring refrigerated containers at Terminal 6 in the Port of Portland. However, the evidence and the law make clear that the work is under the control, not of the port, but of the employers of ILWU members, including the steamship carriers,” the union stated in its press release.
The ILWU believes the matter will be settled once and for all by taking the case to a federal appeals court. “The ILWU’s plan has always been to find justice in the appeals court,” the union stated.