Twenty-five Security Officers employed by the Port of Portland reached tentative agreement for a new four-year contract on November 24, thanks to good planning and solidarity support from other ILWU members. The new agreement that expires in June, 2015, was ratified by Portland Security Officers on December 4th by a margin of 20 to 1 with four members not voting. Longshore leverage Rank-and-file Negotiating Committee members reached terms with Port officials on Saturday evening of Thanksgiving weekend – just 12 hours before a looming Sunday morning strike deadline. The likelihood that longshore workers would honor picket lines became a powerful solidarity factor in resolving the negotiations that began 18 months ago.
Outsourcing was key Outsourcing emerged as the most contentious issue in the talks after it became clear that Port officials were willing to sign leases allowing terminal operators to bypass the Port’s security officers and Local 28. The agreement secured good raises, pensions and health benefits, according to Local 28 President Jerry Hardman, “but the key is that it also protects the kind of good-paying, blue-collar jobs that working families need so badly.” The outsourcing protections apply for the life of the contract to piers #2 and #6. Preparing ahead Security officers put a detailed strike plan together during the Thanksgiving weekend. Maps were studied, picket captains were identified, teams were assigned and signs were prepared. Family involvement From the beginning, strike preparations included family members. Kids were encouraged to help make picket signs. Spouses were invited to participate and get involved.
Community connection “If there was going to be a strike, it needed to be a family affair,” said Angie Dahlgren, the Security Officer who served as Chair of the Negotiating Committee, and included her daughter in the preparations. “We wanted to connect our fight against outsourcing to the concerns of working families in Portland.”
Saluting the vets Security Officer Devin Lingo gave special thanks to the many military veterans who now work as Security Officers at the Port. “Both older and younger vets provided tremendous support and unity that helped us win this good jobs victory.”