Gee, maybe people are finally paying attention.
After warning of the catastrophic consequences of the long-planned Big Labor chaos at our nation’s ports for more than a year, I’m finally not the only one talking about it.
A strike by clerical workers shut down terminals at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Wednesday after other workers refused to cross picket lines at the nation’s busiest combined cargo complex, officials said.
Seven of eight terminals at the Port of Los Angeles were shut down by the action, along with three of six terminals at the neighboring Port of Long Beach, officials at the facilities said.
The strike is the largest work stoppage at the ports in a decade, but its effects on the movement of goods could ultimately be limited if workers return soon. Many goods destined for sale in the holiday shopping season have already moved through the ports.
Longshore clerks at the ports are in a dispute with terminal operators over staffing issues.
The clerks, represented by a unit of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 63, took to the picket line on Wednesday, and other key personnel such as crane operators also represented by the ILWU have refused to cross picket lines.
Stephen Berry, lead negotiator for port operators the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association, said the strike marks “a dangerous escalation” in his group’s ongoing dispute with the union representing the clerks.
He added that if the strike continues “the negative effects on jobs and the economy will be felt nationwide.”
This is part of the decades-old fight at the docks over modernization. It’s not about “fair wages” or “outsourcing.” These workers are among the highest-paid clerical workers in America with unheard-of guaranteed contracts, pensions, and benefits.
The OCU [clerical workers’ union] enjoy extremely generous paid time off benefits (with average absenteeism from vacation, sick leave, holidays, and other leaves totaling over 29%, or three and one-half months, of the year). In the face of this absenteeism, the OCU demand that when employees are absent, for whatever reason, the employers must call in a temporary employee to fill the vacancy on the first day and for the duration of the vacancy.
• The OCU also insist that the employers hire a new employee every time an employee retires or quits, even if there is no work for the new employee to perform.
• The OCU’s last written proposal before the strike includes an unlawful demand that employers convert some managers to union-represented clerks as a reward for giving the OCU misleading and/or false information that the OCU sought to use against the employers during contract negotiations.
…The OCU are already the highest paid clerical workers in America. The employers’ latest proposals would increase OCU annual compensation packages to over $190,000 in wages and benefits by 2016, including:
• Average annual wages up to approximately $90,000;
• Pensions of up to $75,000 per year;
• Maintenance of all benefits in the OCU’s extremely generous health plan, for which the OCU pay nothing (benefits include, e.g., $0 co-pay for generic drugs; $0 for x-rays, diagnostics, and lab tests; $5 office visit co-pays; 90% coverage for infertility; and more);
• Maintenance of all other employment benefits (an average of 12 weeks of paid time off every year; meal and transportation allowances; early retirement with full benefits; education reimbursement; etc.).
Union protectionism at the expense of billions of dollars’ worth of trade and the livelihoods of thousands of small businesses, wholesalers, importers, shippers, dock workers, truckers, and their families. Heckuva job, Big Labor.
Live from Occupy Oakland: Window smashing, vandalism, and more; charter buses to port, Teamsters in the house; port shut down, trucks overrun; Update: Tear gas, riot police, fire, firecrackers at midnight Pacific time