Shipping lines and terminal operators in the Los Angeles-Long Beach ports received good news this past Wednesday when the Office Clerical Unit (OCU) of ILWU Local 63 agreed to resume contract negotiations. With no contract since June 2010, office workers were prepared to go on strike, which would have locked out the shipping lines and terminals from operating with the OCU. What makes the issue complex is instead of normal waterfront bargaining practices where there is one coast-wide contract; the OCU has 14 different contracts, one with each employer. Current negotiations are over the OCU unit that works at the APM terminal.
The OCU’s main bargaining tool is the ability to picket the terminals, which would in effect shut down all cargo handling operations within the ports. Fortunately, both parties have agreed to open negotiations once again, with the hope of coming to an agreement and avoiding a work stoppage. Stay tuned as more develops.