Agreement reached in LA-Long Beach port clerical workers strike

In a late-night announcement Dec. 4, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union said tentative agreement has been reached between ILWU Local 63’s Office Clerical Unit (OCU) and 14 employers at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Workers were to return to their jobs Dec. 5.

The pact must be ratified by the union membership.

The two ports, among the world’s busiest, had been brought to a standstill

Nov. 27 by the OCU, whose members handle the voluminous paperwork involved in shipments making up nearly 40 percent of the value of all cargo container imports to the U.S.

At issue were job security and job jurisdiction for the clerks, whose employers have been hiring more nonunion superintendents through attrition, outsourcing work to nonunion contractors elsewhere in the U.S. and overseas, and finding ways to get fewer employees to perform more work.

The clerks had been working without a contract since July 2010.

The ILWU said the agreement includes new protections to help keep jobs from being outsourced.

“This victory was accomplished because of support from the entire ILWU family of 10,000 members in the harbor community,” ILWU International President Robert McEllrath said in a statement. McEllrath praised the unity and solidarity of members, their families and thousands of community supporters.

Local 63-OCU President John Fageaux thanked union members for having the courage to stand up and strike against powerful employers, calling the strike “a community effort that will benefit working families for many years to come.”

Ten of the ports’ 14 cargo container terminals were idled during the strike, which was supported by other ILWU dockworkers who refused to cross the clerical workers’ picket line.

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) also backed the strike, advising crews of ships covered by ITF agreements to respect the picket line

L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa had called Sunday for mediation and round-the-clock negotiations. On Tuesday, he said of the agreement, “Mission accomplished.

Photo: Veronica Irwin via Photobucket


Marilyn Bechtel
Marilyn Bechtel

Marilyn Bechtel writes from the San Francisco Bay Area. She joined the PW staff in 1986 and currently participates as a volunteer. Marilyn Bechtel escribe desde el Área de la Bahía de San Francisco. Se unió al personal de PW en 1986 y actualmente participa como voluntaria.