PORTLAND dockers and their employers are suing Manila's International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI) in US District Court, claiming that the company broke a labour contract that assigns reefer work to members of the longshore union rather than to the electrical workers union.
At issue is the plugging and unplugging of reefer boxes as the ICTSI container facility, Terminal 6, in Portland, Oregon.
The dockers union, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) perform all other work at the terminal, but ICTSI assigned the reefer jobs to members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
According to the ILWU and their employers, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), the matter was thrashed out in the waterfront contract's grievance machinery, and the ILWU and PMA "obtained final and binding contractual rulings that the [reefer] work at Terminal 6 must be assigned to the ILWU".
ICTSI is a signatory to the overall labour contract. The ILWU and PMA said ICTSI "is blatantly ignoring its obligations" under the coastwide contract".
In the face of the ICTSI's refusal to reassign the work, there has been disruptive tactics by union members who carry out all other functions at the container terminal.
These go slow tactics prompted the regulatory National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) to charge the union with unfair work practices. The NLRB has since set a hearing for mid-August, which could spark a restraining order or an injunction against the ILWU.