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Sept.7, 2015

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INTERNATIONAL MARITIME IMPORTING | EXPORTING | PORTS | CARRIERS | BREAKBULK | GLOBAL LOGISTICS THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE 35 By Bill Mongelluzzo IT MAY HAVE taken the better part of a year to achieve, but the new U.S. West Coast longshore contract should clear the way for terminal automation projects and slash the number of productivity-busting work slowdowns that have plagued ports, the president of the group representing water- front employers says. Knowing that a restructured arbitra- tion system will allow quick resolution of work slowdowns or stoppages by mem- bers of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, terminal operators are ready to invest billions of dollars in auto- mation, "dollars that will pave the way toward more productive and efficient ports," Pacific Maritime Association President James McKenna wrote in the introduc- tion to the PMA's just-released 2014 annual report. Dockworkers engaged in more than 200 slowdowns or work stoppages during the 2008-14 contract, according to the PMA report. Employers had no choice but to rely on the "patchwork nature" of the previ- ous arbitration system that allowed these job actions to interrupt cargo-handling operations while the local arbitrator in the individual port regions adjudicated the dis- putes. The process often resulted in a marine terminal shutting down for the remainder of a work shift. Under the new West Coast arbitration system, the ILWU local and the employer are able to call in the local arbitrator to resolve disagreements. Those disputes could involve a difference of opinion over manning, whether a picket line set up by a third-party group such as harbor truckers was bona fide under the contract, or juris- diction. Under the former system, the ILWU nominated, and the PMA agreed to, the local arbitrators in Los Angeles-Long Beach and Seattle-Tacoma. The PMA nominated the local arbitrators in Northern California and Portland, with the agreement of the ILWU. Manning and jurisdiction disputes are expected to be common in the coming years as terminal operators invest in costly auto- mation that will improve productivity, slash labor costs — and eliminate hundreds of longshore jobs. The previous arbitration sys- tem, which critics on both sides said favored either the ILWU or the PMA, depending upon which group nominated the employer, caused some terminal operators to shy away from investing hundreds of millions of dol- lars to bring in automated guided vehicles, automated stacking cranes and other equip- ment that is not manned by dockworkers. The arbitration system in the new con- tract ratified in late May establishes in each port range a three-person panel, one nomi- nated by the ILWU, one by the PMA and the PAVING THE WAY FOR AUTOMATION? Armed with a new ILWU arbitration process, West Coast marine terminals are ready to invest, PMA report says

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