ILWU rejects contract extension; PMA expects more slowdowns

| 9/25/2002

Despite a week of crippling work slowdowns at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, CA, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union has refused to extend its contract with the Pacific Maritime Association, according to the PMA. The PMA says the ILWU's decision indicates union slowdowns and other disruptions are likely to continue.

The PMA board met over the weekend and spent considerable time examining the slowdowns and other disruptions that occurred during the past week. At the conclusion of its meetings, the board reaffirmed its policy that there would be a need for a collective response in the event of further slowdowns.

Although the four-day ILWU work action at one of the largest terminals in Long Beach apparently has come to an end, other sporadic work actions were reported over the weekend, prompting PMA President and CEO Joe Miniace to deliver an urgent request to ILWU President James Spinosa on Saturday. The request called for a return to the 24-hour contract extensions in place from July 1 to Sept. 1, when the union refused to continue the practice.

After the union refused to comply with his latest request, Miniace said there was little ambiguity about the result.

"The only reason not to extend the contract is to open up the door to work slowdowns, so this refusal leads us to one conclusion," Miniace said. "The ILWU is planning to continue its practice of crippling job-actions on the waterfront."

Last week saw a concerted effort by the ILWU to interrupt the operations of Stevedoring Services of America, one of PMA's largest member companies, and one of the biggest tenants at the Port of Long Beach, which is the nation's second-largest container port.

The weekend saw incidents at Portland, OR, Tacoma, WA, and Port Hueneme, CA, which the ILWU insisted were not officially sanctioned job actions. Given that statement by the union, Miniace suggested in his letter to Spinosa that a contract extension would ensure that local disputes "do not become the basis for a wider confrontation."

Miniace closed his letter by saying, "PMA believes that the contract extension would assist the parties in the process of negotiations by removing these distractions and at the same time provide assurance to the shipping public that normal operations will continue on the West Coast."