ILWU refuses to stand down as rogue PMA-member ICTSI continues to violate Longshore contract

In the June issue of the Dispatcher, we reported that the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) had taken the extraordinary step of jointly suing a PMA-member company, ICTSI, for its continued refusal to comply with the Pacific Coast Longshore and Clerks’ Agreement (PCL&CA). The lawsuit, which was filed on June 13, 2012, seeks an order requiring ICTSI to comply with the PCL&CA, which establishes jurisdiction between the ILWU and all PMA-member signatories, including carriers, terminal operators, stevedore companies and maintenance and repair companies.

After the ILWU and PMA sued ICTSI, the company filed counterclaims against both parties seeking to vacate portions of the PCL&CA, asking the court for damages, and claiming that the ILWU and PMA constitute some type of unlawful monopoly over cargo-handling on the West Coast. ICTSI voluntarily joined PMA as a member in 2010. ICTSI’s position on application of the PLC&CA became clear at a recent NLRB proceeding arising from charges filed by ICTSI and the Port of Portland against the ILWU. There, Elvis Ganda, the Chief Executive Officers of ICTSI, stated that the only terms and conditions set by the longshore contract are wages and that everything else is up to the company: “Well, the wages are established in the PCL&CA, and so that’s what we would have to pay. As far as efficiencies, we have the right to look at efficiencies, and that was something we were – you know – we planned to do.” ICTSI’s position is that the company is only subject to the wages component of the longshore contract and that it is free to implement so called efficiencies even if those “efficiencies” directly violate the jurisdiction outlined in the PCL&CA.

In support of ICTSI, the Port of Portland began a “Terminal 6 Carrier Retention Program” in late June in which the Port began offering carriers up to $70,000 each time one of their ships called at Terminal 6. In August, the Port, gave $4.7 million in rent deferral to ICTSI, a company that made $135 million in profits last year alone. The Port’s stated purpose for its recent gift of public funds to private companies is to assist these companies and “offset” their losses arising from the labor dispute between ICTSI and the ILWU.

Upon learning of the payout of public money to ICTSI, the ILWU filed suit against the Port of Portland. It is a violation of federal labor law for public entities like the Port to help one side or the other in a private sector labor dispute. ICTSI is a Philippines-based company that also operates terminals in Brazil, Poland, Japan, Madagascar, Indonesia, Syria, China, Georgia, Colombia, Brunei, Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina, Croatia and India. Terminal 6 is the first terminal that ICTSI is operating in the United States.

“ICTSI is intent on operating outside of the PCL&CA. This is not just an attack on ILWU jurisdiction; this is an attack on the fabric of the multiemployer system that underpins the relationship between the ILWU and PMA. And, while we got PMA to take the unprecedented step of suing one of its own members, PMA needs to do much more to bring members into compliance. It’s the basis of our future relationship,” said Leal Sundet, ILWU Coast Committeeman.

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