Longshore and Warehouse Union walked out on negotiation talks
Sunday and has refused to renew the contract, citing bait-and-switch
tactics by the Pacific Maritime Association.
time we get close to an agreement, PMA reneges," ILWU International
President Jim Spinosa said. "If the PMA wanted a deal, it
was there on the table in front of them. But from day one of the
negotiations the employers have shown that they clearly don't
want to bargain seriously. They want to create a crisis and get
the government to force conditions on the union."
In a press
release, the ILWU said, "Just as both sides were reaching
agreement on the two biggest issues in negotiations, the employer
group, the Pacific Maritime Association, drastically switched
the terms, sabotaging the process. The employers' next move was
to call the Bush administration, which has threatened to send
military personnel to seize and operate West Coast ports."
Bush butts out of our negotiations, the legal collective bargaining
process will never get a chance to work," Spinosa said. "The
government's interference is inappropriate. The Bush administration
has informed us that it has assembled in San Diego trained Navy
dockworkers from bases around the world and has them ready to
move on us. In a time when we are supposed to be in a war against
terrorism, why is Bush using the military against American workers
involved in a legitimate labor dispute?"
left the negotiations Sunday at 11 a.m. to catch flights to Los
Angeles to join the massive Labor Day march and rally attended
by thousands of union members, Jesse Jackson and AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer
Richard Trumka, the second highest ranking officer in the American
has made the ILWU contract negotiations a top priority for the
labor movement, since a military intervention here would set a
precedent unheard of in decades of American history. Scores of
elected officials, from U.S. Senators and Congressional representatives,
to governors, state legislators and port city mayors, have joined
the ILWU in calling for the Bush administration to get out of
the negotiating process and to not send the military to the ports.
signal its displeasure with the PMA's bait and switch tactics,
the ILWU Negotiating Committee declined Tuesday morning to renew
the old contract as it had on a day-to-day basis since it expired
a contract all economic and job actions against the employers
are legal and open as options for the union," ILWU President
Jim Spinosa said. "The ILWU Negotiating Committee will reassemble
in San Francisco Tuesday afternoon and decide the union's next
The PMA balks
at the Union's walkout, saying they had agreed "in principle"
on health benefits and accused the ILWU of threatening work slowdowns.
reached an agreement in principle on health benefits, but the
union continues to refuse to accept critically needed technology
to modernize the ports. The union claims to support technology,
but in fact, is hostile to the very concept of bringing our ports
into the 21st century," said PMA President and CEO Joe Miniace,
who says the ILWU opened the door to work slowdowns. "By
walking away from the talks and refusing to agree to a contract
extension, the union just fired the first shot."
The PMA says
the ILWU has slowed down its productivity during previous negotiations
to levels equivalent to a strike.
slowdowns are how his union stages strikes," Miniace said.
"I have said before that I will not tolerate a slowdown-strike,
and that still stands. If the union wants to play games with the
U.S. economy, they will have to do it from outside the terminal
--Rene Tankersley, feature editor