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NLRB says electricians, not longshore workers should plug in reefer containers

Post by John Gillie / The News Tribune on Aug. 14, 2012 at 1:32 pm |
August 14, 2012 1:46 pm

The National Labor Relations Board has come down on the side of union electricians at the Port of Portland in their dispute with the Longshore Union over which union’s members should plug in and unplug refrigerated containers on the docks.

The dispute over two jobs has disrupted container traffic for weeks at one container terminal in Portland and diverted ships and cargo to Puget Sound including the Port of Tacoma. The container operator has contended the Longshore Union had ordered a work slowdown at the terminal.

The Port of Portland may pay the terminal operator, ICTSI Oregon $4.7 million because of the disruption.

The NLRB’s five-page ruling says the jobs belongs to the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers Union not the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The ILWU contends that under the contract it has with the Pacific Maritime Association, the jobs should be filled with longshore workers.

The Pacific Maritime Association is a consortium of West Coast ports, container lines and terminal operators who manage the relationship with the longshore union coastwide.

The terminal operator in Portland is a member of the PMA. The NLRB, however, employer preference for the electricians should play a major role in deciding which union does the jobs.

The longshore union said it may appeal the NLRB decision to federal court.

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