Strike averted after Portland negotiations

26 Nov 2012
Negotiations have averted a strike that would have shut down Portland's marine terminals

Negotiations have averted a strike that would have shut down Portland's marine terminals

A planned union strike at the Port of Portland was averted yesterday as negotiations between the port and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 28 ended in a speculative contract agreement.

But although the planned strike by the port's security guards was averted, it hasn't been unaffected – the length of negotiations as well as issues earlier this summer between the ILWU and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers have already taken an economic toll.

Bill Wyatt, port executive director, said: “The goal throughout the negotiations was to ensure a fair contract for our workers and minimise impacts to our customers. Our job is to make it as easy as possible for shipping lines to call here and for area businesses to get products to market. If something like a labour dispute complicates calling here, shipping lines may choose to eliminate their Portland calls and then it is very difficult to get them back.”

Honda recently diverted a Portland bound ship carrying 2,000 cars to Richmond, California. The port estimates that there is a US$271.50 impact to the local economy for every vehicle that comes across the port’s docks, so Honda’s alternative route cost the local economy more than US$500,000.

Following a union vote to confirm the agreement, the port commission will formally review and approve the new contract. The Port of Portland has assured that Local 28 workers will continue to perform current duties regardless of changes in agreements with tenants for the duration of the Local 28 contract which runs from 1 July 2011 to 30 June 2015.

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