Comments on ILWU Local 21 Longview contract with EGT, LLC
by Howard Keylor, retired longshoreman and member of the International Bolshevik Tendency
- Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between EGT, LLC & ILWU Local 21. (Also available at Labournet)
These comments are based entirely upon my reading of the contract documents. Since Local 21 officers and members have been forbidden to make the contract available to any longshoreman outside of the Local and are prevented from even discussing the contract with other ILWU members, my analysis is based entirely upon my 34 years experience as a working longshoreman and my involvement in many issues of contract negotiations and implementation on the waterfront.
This is the only ILWU contract with a grain shipping facility which does not include ILWU shipping clerks as part of the work force. ILWU Local 40, which represents the ships clerks in Longview, was shut out of the negotiations and has no jurisdiction under the contract. The various grain shipping companies have contracts with the ILWU which are not part of the main Pacific Coast contract for conventional shipping operations.
Although the contract does provide for Local 21 longshoremen to be dispatched from the Dispatch Hall the employer has the exclusive right to reject any worker dispatched if in his judgment the worker is not "qualified". This undermines the hiring hall and in effect allows the company to pick and choose. If the union cannot supply "qualified" workers, the company can go outside and hire whomever they want. The company has the right to permanently terminate any worker for any reason that the company finds appropriate. Article VIII – Management Rights 8.01c states "At its sole discretion, designate and remove employees from the Facility and reprimand or otherwise discipline employees”. Article V – Hiring and Manning 5.04 states “The Employer may remove employees from the Approved Lists for any reason at its sole discretion. Such removal may be without prior notice. If an employee is on the premises of the Facility at the time of his removal from the Approved Lists, he must immediately leave the Facility when so instructed.”
The company has the right to designate any longshoreman dispatched and working to be a “permanent regular employee” effectively cutting off longshoremen in the dispatch hall from future dispatch. Historically, this issue of "steady men" led to an extended and bitter series of battles in the main longshore division since the infamous 9.43 steady man provision was slipped into the contract in 1966. 9.43 was one of the two issues which caused the three and one half months 1971-72 coastwide strike.
Longshoremen can be required to work up to 13 hours on a given shift. This contrasts with the 10 hour shift maximum in the master contract.
The right to stop work on health and safety issues is rendered ineffectual since the company can continue any unsafe and/or unhealthy work practices with supervisors or anyone they designate to perform the work while the issue is adjudicated under the grievance procedure. This removes the employer's incentive to correct the unsafe or unhealthy condition which could lead to an extended period of time where longshoremen would be "standing by" on health and safety.
Furthermore, the contract requires the Local union officers to order longshoremen to cross and work behind a community picket line or blockade and to announce publicly that such a blockade is unauthorized. This language does NOT appear in the Master longshore contract. If longshoremen stand by on health and safety when a large picket line is blocking the entrance to the facility and the arbitrator rules that a "legitimate" health and safety issue is not involved that becomes an "unauthorized work stoppage". After three of these the employer can cancel the entire contract. This language is clearly intended to intimidate longshoremen from participating in joint actions with Occupy or other outside organizations.
The employer is not required to withdraw all of the financial and legal penalties imposed upon the Local and its members; these remain in place. Even after the end of the 1984 11-day strike of San Francisco longshoremen against South African Apartheid cargo the employers placed all of those penalties in abeyance.
This is the worst contract imposed upon a longshore local that I have ever seen. I can only speculate that Local 21 agreed to this contract after being told by the International Officers that if they don't accept it they are "on their own" and that the International will withdraw all financial and legal support. When the various coastwide grain handling and shipping contracts come up for renewal shortly they will demand the same give-away contract to remain "competitive".
Posted: 15 March 2012