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August 28 2023

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26 Journal of Commerce | A ugust 28, 2023 www.joc.com International Maritime Fageaux declined to comment on the details of the negotiations. Further complicating the nego- tiations, employers are seeking a "new concept" for the OCU pension plan, Berry said, though he did not provide details. The OCU, as in past contract negotiations, continues to challenge the way in which technology is used to process shipping documentation, such as electronic bills of lading. Fageaux said the union wants to ensure that employers cannot use new technology to outsource OCU jobs. "Customers can access infor- mation that used to be in the pur- view of the OCU," Fageaux said. Berry said all OCU jobs will be secure as the use of technology in pro- cessing shipping documentation con- tinues to evolve. "We have a no-layoff clause in the contract," he said. The purpose of technology as it applies to office clerical work is to stay current with advances designed to foster productivity, Berry added. "Technology is purely to facilitate the work environment," he said. JOC email: bill.mongelluzzo@spglobal.com which have lasted a year or longer, ILWU dockworkers have refused to cross picket lines set by the office workers union. Unlike the ILWU dockworkers, who have a single master contract, office workers in Southern Califor- nia negotiate with 15 individual bargaining units. Berry, whose association represents seven of those employer bargaining units, estimated that approximately 98% of the provisions in the 15 contracts are the same, but each employer has at least one "side agreement" that is unique to its operation. Each of the bargaining units has met with the OCU about four times since the beginning of the year, Berry and Fageaux said. Salary disagreement Wages have been a sticking point in the OCU negotiations, with the union seeking a 28% increase over a three-year con- tract, Berry said. That's more than the 32% increase over six years included in the ILWU dockworkers' tentative agreement. The ILWU wage increase is retroactive to July 1, 2022, when the previous contract expired. The agreement also includes a $70 million bonus to be shared by all West Coast dock- workers for remaining on their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. Berry did not say what the employers are offering, but he said they want an OCU contract that lasts longer than three years. INTERNATIONAL LONGSHORE AND Warehouse Union (ILWU) office workers and waterfront employers in Southern California are moving forward in contract negotiations that have been underway since early this year, a lynchpin to ensuring US West Coast labor peace now that ILWU dockworkers have a tentative deal in place. Stephen Berry, lead negotiator for the Los Angeles-Long Beach Har- bor Employers Association, and John Fageaux, president of the ILWU Local 63 Office Clerical Unit (OCU), agreed that the two sides are "mak- ing progress" in the negotiations to replace the six-year OCU contract that expired on June 30. Thus far, discussions have been focused on wages, pensions and the use of tech- nology to process shipping docu- ments, according to the negotiators. "It's fair to say we're making progress," Fageaux told the Journal of Commerce Aug. 8. Although he would not speculate on how long the negotiations will last, Fageaux said the two sides "still have a lot of ground to cover." The OCU contract is one of three West Coast waterfront contracts that were up for negotiation this summer. ILWU dockworkers and employers represented by the Pacific Maritime Association reached a ten- tative contract agreement on June 16. ILWU Canada and employers at the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert reached a tentative contract agreement on Aug. 6. Shipping lines have a vested interest in the OCU talks, which apply only to office workers in Southern California. In prior OCU contract negotiations, some of Clerical contract Ongoing office worker talks lynchpin to West Coast labor peace By Bill Mongelluzzo "It's fair to say we're making progress. [But we] still have a lot of ground to cover." Unlike ILWU dockworkers, the OCU negotiates with 15 individual bargaining units in Los Angeles and Long Beach. Ringo Chiu / Shutterstock.com Importing & Exporting | Ports | Carriers | Breakbulk | Global Logistics

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