SP CLAIMS PRODUCTIVITY UP AT LA TERMINAL FACILITY'S FORMER OPERATOR DISAGREES

SP CLAIMS PRODUCTIVITY UP AT LA TERMINAL FACILITY'S FORMER OPERATOR DISAGREES

Southern Pacific Transportation Co. and the dismissed operator of the railroad's Intermodal Container Transfer Facility are still at odds.

SP contends that productivity at the ICTF in Los Angeles has improved 40 percent since it took over direct operation one month ago.Stevedoring Services of America, the former contractor at the ICTF, argues, however, that shipping lines are diverting their business to other yards to avoid labor problems.

Meanwhile, the Port of Los Angeles Harbor Police force has been very busy in recent weeks responding to complaints of harassment at the facility.

SP claims informational pickets posted by the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union are throwing nails in the roadway and attempting to blind drivers by shining bright lights in their truck cabs as they enter the facility.

The union, which has denied any wrongdoing, has accused SP security guards of harassing its members as they hand out informational leaflets.

"The SP security guards have been trying to intimidate us," said Ray Familathe, business agent at ILWU Local 13, adding, "We've got it on videotape." SP adamantly denies those charges.

On Feb. 17, the ILWU refused to work containerships at most West Coast ports to protest the loss of more than 300 jobs at the ICTF. SP replaced the ILWU members with workers represented by a rail union.

SP said it was taking over direct operation of the ICTF because ILWU workers employed by Rail Services of America, a company 50 percent-owned by Stevedoring Services of America, failed to achieve productivity standards.

Mike Furtney, an SP spokesman in San Francisco, said Wednesday the new workers are consistently doing 2.5 to 2.7 lifts per man-hour each 24-hour period, compared with 1.8 lifts by the ILWU. "These guys are getting better every day, yet they only have 30 days' experience," he said.

In testimony this week before an ad hoc committee of the Los Angeles City Council, Ed DeNike, senior vice president of Stevedoring Services of America in Seattle, said productivity at the yard is no better than it was before and business is actually down.

"Since the change in work force a month ago, the steamship companies, concerned about potential labor problems, have diverted containers to other rail ramps and other ports. As a result, the ICTF volume has been reduced drastically the past few weeks," Mr. DeNike said.

Independent confirmation of volume throughput is difficult to obtain, although Ezunial Burts, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, said his staff is attempting to draw up figures.

"We're being told by the lines business is pretty much as usual," Mr. Burts said. "But we recognize there is a labor problem, and we're doing everything we can to ensure traffic flows smoothly," he added.

Capt. Michael Godward, commanding officer of field services for the port police, said his men have been called out to the facility a number of times on complaints of harassment by both sides. "This is common during labor disputes," he added.

Last Sunday, longshoremen called the port police, saying they were being harassed by two men, one of whom had a gun. Police arrested the two men and recovered the gun, but Capt. Godward said there was no evidence linking the men with the SP.

Mr. Furtney of SP said, "If there was even the remotest connection to SP, these people would be dismissed immediately. We have leaned on our people not to provoke the ILWU," he added.