Digital Edition

Mar. 17, 2014

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 29 of 63

INTERNATIONAL MARITIME IMPORTING | EXPORTING | PORTS | CARRIERS | BREAKBULK | GLOBAL LOGISTICS 30 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE MARCH 17.2014 By Bill Mongelluzzo JURISDICTIONAL DISPUTES BETWEEN dock- workers and other waterfront unions will intensify in the coming years as technology and automation eliminate some traditional jobs, but also create new jobs maintaining and repairing sophisticated new machines, according to a machinist union executive. The turf wars will become increasingly bitter on the West Coast because the Inter- national Longshore and Warehouse Union is adamant about controlling all waterfront work, whether or not the employer is a mem- ber of the Pacific Maritime Association, or even if the ILWU members don't have the skills necessary to perform the work, Don Crosatto, senior area director of Interna- tional Association of Machinists District 190, told the JOC's 14th Annual TPM Con- ference in Long Beach this month. Because 2014 is a contract year, ILWU mechanics likely will move aggressively this summer to protect existing jobs repairing chassis, or to go after new jobs performing diagnostics and maintenance work on com- puterized machinery, he said. Crosatto said employers will be torn between keeping peace with the ILWU and hiring workers that are best suited for the jobs. For example, as terminals in Los Ange- les-Long Beach modernize and introduce costly and sophisticated automated guided vehicles and automated stacking cranes, the ILWU expects jurisdiction over those jobs. The big question, though, involves the ability of the ILWU dockworkers to per- form work on the computerized and highly technical machines. "You can't just hand a longshoreman a wrench and expect him to be a mechanic," Crosatto said. The IAM has performed waterfront work since the 1940s, and represents 900 mechanics on the West Coast repairing chassis, containers, cranes and other cargo- handling equipment. Over the years, some employers have contracted with the IAM to do this work and others have hired ILWU workers. As the work becomes more specialized, it will require mechanics who have gone through training and apprenticeship pro- grams such as those offered by craft unions, Crosatto said. "We are a craft union. We're not embarrassed by that," he said. The ILWU was scheduled to have a repre- sentative on the TPM Conference jurisdiction panel, but the union canceled its commitment and did not name a replacement. Waterfront employers also will have to choose between keeping peace with the ILWU, which may lead to overstaffing, and hiring the right number of mechanics for the work available. Last summer in Oakland, SSA Marine took over adjacent terminals operated by APL and Total Terminals International. SSA has historically contracted with IAM mechanics. ILWU mechanics had been performing work at the other facilities. SSA was able to replace 80 ILWU mechanics with 14 IAM mechanics, Crosatto said. That led to ILWU work stoppages and slowdowns at Oakland. This type of interunion rivalry has been a fact of life in the history of organized labor UNION VS. UNION The jurisdictional battles in this spring's ILWU negotiations could be just a preview of bigger turf wars to come "You can't just hand a longshoreman a wrench and expect him to be a mechanic." Don Crosatto

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Digital Edition - Mar. 17, 2014