An Administrative Law Judge for the National Labor Relations Board issued a preliminary decision and recommended order on August 28 that the ILWU is not legally entitled to perform disputed work that is covered by the ILWU’s 80-year-old collective bargaining agreement with the union’s West Coast employers. The work was awarded to IBEW-represented electricians last year in an NLRB ruling that has since been vacated by a federal judge who found that the Board acted outside the clear legal mandates of the National Labor Relations Act when it issued a decision awarding work to the Port’s electricians because the Port’s public employees are excluded from the Board’s jurisdiction.
The ALJ’s preliminary decision and 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 ultimate control, not of the Port, but of the employers of International Longshore and Warehouse Union members, including the steamship carriers.
“The ALJ’s error about who controls the work, and his reliance on a now-vacated Board decision, will ultimately lead to a court reversal in this case and the ILWU securing the work we’re entitled to under the collective bargaining agreement that ICTSI agreed to follow when it took over operations at Terminal 6,” said Leal Sundet, a longshoreman from Portland who serves as ILWU Coast Committeeman in San Francisco. “His decision and recommended order is contrary to decisions of industry arbitrators who understand the work at issue here as well as ICTSI’s obligations to both Pacific Maritime Association internal labor standards and to the collective agreement that PMA has with the ILWU.”
The ALJ’s decision is not a surprise to the ILWU, given that the Board has been on a campaign to weaken it ever since the Union defied the Board’s orders in the widely reported fight to protect longshore jobs at the EGT grain terminal in the port of Longview, Washington, in 2011. The ILWU’s plan has always been to find justice in the appeals court. Yesterday’s ALJ decision and recommended order is not binding legal precedent unless and until it is enforced pursuant to a judgment of a federal court.
ICTSI is a voluntary member of the Pacific Maritime Association, the employer association that employs ILWU members on the West Coast. The entire longshore industry, consisting of more than 70 employers, agrees with ILWU’s position on this matter.
Sundet said, “ICTSI is a rogue foreign company that wants the protection of a multi-employer contract but refuses to accept the collective obligations of such a contract. We believe a neutral appellate court will hold this company accountable where the Labor Board has been unwilling to do so.”
The above is a statement from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The Maritime Executive does not necessarily endorse any opinions herein.