Subscribe to ILWU feed
International Longshore and Warehouse Union
Updated: 5 days 23 hours ago

Barry Silverman: former ILWU Research Director  

Tue, 10/07/2014 - 10:07

Barry Silverman

Former ILWU Research Director Barry Silverman died on August 18, 2014, at the age of 74 due to complications from a brain seizure. His wife, Carolyn his two children, Joshua Silverman and Kerry Fiero were by his side.

Silverman was hired by former Inter-national President Harry Bridges in 1965 to serve as the ILWU’s Research Director. He continued in that position under International President Jim Herman, also serving as chief of staff. He provided sup-port for longshore and warehouse negotiating committees on the West Coast and in Hawaii, with a particular expertise on health and welfare and pension issues. He assisted in many arbitrations and wrote the grant that established the longshore safety program. During the 1970’s and early 80’s, he taught collective bargaining courses at San Francisco City College, and enjoyed passing his skills to students.

Silverman’s career at the ILWU was cut short in 1988 following a cerebral hemorrhage, but he remained active after retirement – serving as an outspoken member of the Alameda County Grand Jury in 1995-1996, and traveling and camping with his wife. He was an avid walker, and was known as the “mayor of the track” at the Rev. Martin Luther King Intermediate School in Berkeley.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Silver-man attended Fairfax High School, then joined the Army Reserve, and headed to Berkeley where he graduated UC and earned a Master’s Degree in Business Administration in 1965. He participated in the Free Speech Movement and stayed involved in political issues, participating in rallies and protests over three decades – spending a few days behind bars for his efforts.  After graduating, he married Wende Shoemaker with whom he built a family and had two children, Joshua and Kerry. Later in life Silverman was re-married to Carolyn Corbelli, with whom he spent the last 26 years.

In addition to his love for politics and the union, Silverman was passion-ate about baseball, boxing, jazz, the out-doors, and horse racing.  He sometimes joked that Harry Bridges – who was also passionate about horse racing – had hired Silverman more for his handicap-ping skills than expertise in labor relations.  But above all he earned a solid reputation for his research and negotiating skills, and was admired for his straight-forward, direct and warm demeanor.

Silverman’s memorial was held on September 13, 2014 in Berkeley, attended by his family and friends, including many ILWU members and staff. He is survived by his wife, Carolyn Corbelli, former wife Wende Shoemaker, brother Richard Silverman, son Joshua Silverman, daughter Kerry Fiero, son-in-law Gian Fiero and grandson Gianardo Fiero.

Categories: Unions

James R. Herman Terminal dedication

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 16:12

ILWU International President Robert McEllrath and International Secretary Treasurer Willie Adams joined San Francisco Port Director Monique Moyer and a host of other officials on September 25 to dedicate the new James R. Herman Cruise Ship Terminal.

The $100 million state-of-the art facility has already hosted several Princess cruise ships this fall, with 80 vessels expected next year, carrying 300,000 passengers. The terminal was named for former ILWU International President and Port Commissioner, James R. “Jimmy” Herman.

McEllrath and Adams both praised Herman for his courage, commitment to working class values and advocacy for San Francisco’s maritime industry. A special interactive video sculpture was included inside the terminal to educate visitors about Jimmy Herman, the ILWU and working class struggles along San Francisco’s seven-mile waterfront. Donations to pay for the exhibit were led

by a $100,000 contribution from the Coast Longshore Caucus, accompanied by donations from various Locals, Pensioners, Auxiliaries, individuals and the Inlandboatmen’s Union (IBU).

A fundraising breakfast will be held on October 9th at the Delancey Street Restaurant – operated by the Delancey Street Foundation drug and alcohol recovery program which was supported by Herman. An event dedicating the interactive exhibit is tentatively scheduled for November. To contribute, call Local 34 President Sean Farley at 415-362-8852.

Categories: Unions

Why the Pacific Coast Pensioners Association?

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 11:30

[This article originally appeared in the May 2006 edition of the Dispatcher. It was written by Arne Auvinen, President of the Pacific Coast Pensioners from 2003-2006.  He passed away on July 31st of this year and was honored at 47th annual PCPA convention held this September in Vancouver, BC.  We reprint this excellent article on the PCPA written by Arne to honor his legacy and dedication to the ILWU even in retirement and the important work he did for the PCPA.--Eds]


In a monumental negotiations breakthrough, the first ILWU  pension checks were passed out to retiring ILWU longshoremen, clerks and foreman in July 1952 at special meetings held up and down the Coast.

Soon after retiring, these pensioners began to organize into clubs in the various areas of the West Coast. In the beginning a main purpose of the pension clubs was to provide a place and an opportunity for ILWU retirees and their wives to visit and keep alive the satisfying work and fraternal relationships going back many years.  Before long most pension clubs to face up to and take action on senior and labor problems and issues of direct concern to their clubs and the locals from which they retired. They found out they needed their pension clubs to represent them in maintaining and improving their living standards under the contract and Social Security. Realizing that strength was in their numbers, in 1968 ILWU pensioners took the next step, forming the Pacific Coast Pensioners Association.

The original driving force in organizing the PCPA was Leo Miller, Local 63 Wilmington Marine Clerks. He received help from Locals 13 and 24 in raising money and encouragement. The criteria for a coastwise organizing meeting were: 1) find a location half the distance between Bellingham, Wash. And San Diego Calif.; 2) stay away from the seaports; 3) have parking for RVs and hotel accommodations.

After investigating various sites from Red Bluff, Calif. to Medfore, Ore., Miller recommended Anderson, Calif. The call was sent to all pension groups to hold an organizing convention Sept. 16, 17 and 18, 1968. The delegates assembled at the organizing convention and came without compensation, instruction, or constitution, but with enthusiasm and the will do something, not only for themselves, but for all pensioners.

Miller favored a loose organization, with just a coordinator and an Executive Board. The northern delegates wanted to elect a President, Vice President, Secretary and Executive Board, with a constitution to be written and presented to the 1969 convention.

They resolved their difference and Bill Lawrence, Local 13, was elected President; Mike Sickinger, Local 8, Treasurer; Rosco Craycraft, Local 19, Secretary of the Executive Board and Brother Leo Miller to serve as coordinator until the 1969 convention.

The purpose of all this was to have a fraternal organization of ILWU pensioners that would give them unity, direction and purpose. Through their association they would have a voice to speak for them at both the union and the national level. They believed that a fraternal adjunct to the ILWU would be of considerable value.

The pensioners and wives who gathered at the first convention were all veterans of the 1934 strike. They had all been together through the struggles of the 30s and 40s and knew there was no such thing as a free lunch. They understood that in order to maintain their benefits they had to support the ILWU as they did when they were working.

In the beginning most pensioners and their spouses believed in the PCPA, but attitudes changed in pensioners retiring after the 1960s. When they retired, they failed to participate or even join the PCPA. The ILWU still needs the support of all pensioners, spouses and widows. Out of 8,700 eligible retirees, only 2,700 are members of the PCPA. Our union and the labor movement as a whole are at a crossroads, and both need the support of all the ILWU pensioners.

Prosperity breeds greed, apathy and complacency. Workers and pensioners become self-serving during the good times. There is no one among us working or retired who should forget that what we have today is here because someone fought on our behalf long before we were part of the union movement. We “old timers,” pensioners or whatever we want to be called, should not sit back and collect our pensions and Social Security and ignore what has happened with the airline and automobile companies, where pensions and retiree health care have been slashed or eliminated altogether and think we are immune. Only be joining in the struggle can we be sure what we enjoy today is not lost.

We should not just think of ourselves, but of future generations of workers, including our children and grandchildren. We should remember the past and constantly remind the active workers how it was.

Many years ago, IWW leader Big Bill Haywood said, “You can put two bits in a working man’s pocket and do anything you want with him. If you try to take any part of it away, he becomes a fighting SOB.”

We have to be prepared for the worst, so join the struggle now. Join the PCPA.

–Arne Auvinen

Categories: Unions

The legacy of Arne Auvinen: October 19, 1949 to July 31, 2014

Fri, 10/03/2014 - 15:15

Arne Auvinen (right) with his son Michael.

[ILWU pensioner Arne Auvien passed away on July 31st. Arne was an active union member who dedicated his life to the ILWU. He was elected to numerous local union positions over his long career and was an active member of the Pacific Coast Pensioners Association in his retirement. Arne was first chosen to serve his local in 1957 when he was elected Secretary of Local 21. Over the years was  elected by the membership to serve the union in several offices including caucus and convention delegate, dispatcher, trustee and in 1964, Local 21 President. In 1970 he was elected Vice President of Local 92 and Local 92 President in 1971.

In retirement Arne served as President of the PCPA from 2003-2006 and as the PCPA Secretary for 10 years. The 47th Annual PCPA Convention, held this September in British Columbia ,was dedicated to his memory. –Eds]

Arne Auvinen was my Pap and my hero. I was blessed to have him 65 years. He and my mother, Margie, who died in 1982, raised my sisters and me to believe that we could do anything we wanted if we worked for it, and work was paramount to achieving our dreams. They also taught us that people are people, regardless of our color or race.

My Pap was born into the labor movement in Southwest Montana on May 9, 1923, in the small mining town of Bear Creek. His father, Paul, was active in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), helping workers fight for humane working conditions against employers who viewed employees as expendable.

My granddad eventually ended up being black-balled from the mines, which happened to many union supporters & organizers. Their family moved to Washington where my granddad went to work on the waterfront in 1927. He settled in Longview, WA, where he became a member of Local 21 in 1933.

Granddad passed away in 1943 because of the lung disease he got from working in the mines. This left my grandmother destitute with a mortgage to pay on an unfinished house. Growing up in those circumstances deeply influenced my father’s commitment to improving conditions for working families.

I cannot remember a time when my dad wasn’t involved in what was happening at the union hall, which he believed was crucial to keeping our union healthy and strong because it made workers more informed and involved. He believed that the hiring hall was the single most important result of the 1934 strike and must never be surrendered. I can remember when the unity and strength of my father’s generation made the 8-hour day a reality, so he could get home at 5:30 instead of 6:30.

My Pap believed that you owed your employer a good day’s work for a good days pay. He never believed in working 2 hours on then taking 2 hours off, or working 4 on and 4 off, even though it became more common before he retired. His rule was this: if you were supposed to be working a job and weren’t there, you should be fired. It was totally against everything he believed for someone to be paid for not working. Pap believed that our jobs were secured through the strength and sacrifice of union members, and that union members had a responsibility to care for those jobs and not abuse them.

When I worked on the docks in 1966-1977, most cargo was still being moved by hand. It was hard work, but I never felt that I was worked too hard for the pay that I received. Workers who are fortunate enough to be part of the ILWU’s elite longshore workforce enjoy the best blue-collar working conditions and benefits in our country. My father believed that employers would always find ways to exploit unorganized workers – and he believed that it was the responsibility of union members with good jobs and benefits to help unorganized workers build unions. He thought this was the only way to preserve and improve the working class. He didn’t see it as a local issue, but a world issue. He didn’t think these were individual problems, but ones for union members to address together with the entire labor movement. He believed the ILWU’s Ten Guiding Principles should be respected and followed.

Arne didn’t quit when he retired in 1985. He and our stepmother, Esther, became active in the Pensioners. He advocated for widows to receive a larger portion of their husband’s pension benefit after their husbands died. He also pushed to bring the pensions of older retirees more in line with current pensions.

My Pap’s last hurrah was the Lower Columbia Longshore Federal Credit Union’s 60th Anniversary on April 26, 2014. He was instrumental in it getting it established, and I was glad to join him that day when he was still sharp and witty. Today he is gone, and I miss the conversations and his comments more than could ever have imagined.

I wish that those of you who follow in his footsteps will cherish and protect the work that he and others like him were able to do. I hope you realize how fortunate we are today because of the work that was done by our elders who were totally committed to the cause of the working man.

My dad and the others of his generation are mostly gone now – but there’s still plenty of work to be done – so the rest is up to us to carry it on.

– Michael Auvinen

Categories: Unions

Recycling Campaign continues making progress

Fri, 10/03/2014 - 14:38

For years, ACI pretended that the recycling workers they employed were “temps” and not real company employees – despite working at ACI for up to 15 years. The company agreed to end the “temp” sham after workers organized and took action with support from the ILWU. Photo by Brooke Anderson

The campaign by East Bay recycling workers for dramatic wage and benefit improvements continued to make progress in September.

Oakland Council OK’s raises

On September 22, the Oakland City Council adjusted their future franchise agreements so that two firms will share responsibility for collecting refuse and processing recycling from City residents – and both firms will provide workers with dramatic wage increases and good health benefits.

Because of the City’s decision, recycling workers at Waste Management (WM) and California Waste Solutions (CWS) who are members of ILWU Local 6, will see their wages increase from $13.22 at CWS and $12.50 at WM, rising steadily to $20.94 by the year 2019. Both companies will also provide workers with affordable family health insurance.

Organizing effort

The victory resulted from two years of organizing and job actions – including numerous strikes. Local 6 recycling workers have led the fight for better pay, launching their effort in February of 2013, following the historic “Alameda County Recycler Workers Convention” attended by hundreds of workers and community supporters.

Waste Management contract needed

Now that the City Council has included the wage increases into Oakland’s franchise agreements, it’s up to Waste Management officials to sign a new union contract with the ILWU that locks-in the raises and benefits. CWS officials signed a contract with Local 6 at the end of July, but Waste Management officials have been avoiding a new contract with the ILWU for over three years. With the City’s action on

September 22, and the possibility of continued worker actions, pressure is building on the company to sign the contract and begin paying raises approved by the City Council.

Inspiring ACI workers

On September 9, recycling workers at Alameda County Industries (ACI) announced their decision to form a union and join the ILWU. With 85% of the 70 workers signing ILWU representation cards, their commitment was clear. ACI management was asked to immediately recognize the ILWU as the recycler’s union, but the company refused and is requiring workers to vote in an election.

Teamsters collude

Company officials made it clear that they would prefer to have recycling workers represented by the Teamsters Union, which has represented ACI drivers for over 20 years – but did nothing to help the 70 recyclers who have suffered as “perma-temps” and received only minimum wages with no benefits for at least 15 years. Recycling workers say that they became angry at the Teamsters eight years ago when Local 70 officials solicited representation cards from recycling workers, then ignored the recyclers after securing the contract for Teamster drivers.

Surveillance, not support

During a September 15 rally at ACI’s headquarters in San Leandro, Teamster Local 70 officials and company managers kept workers and community supporters under surveillance from the sidelines – while supervisors inside the plant threatened workers who supported the rally with retaliation.

Temp scam

ACI used an especially dirty trick to cheat recycling workers out of decent pay, benefits and a union – and the company did so with the knowledge and tacit approval of officials at Teamsters Union Local 70. For 15 years, ACI has pretended that the recyclers they employ aren’t actual employees – because the company obtained them through a temp agency. Some workers have been employed at ACI in this manner as “temps” for up to 15 years.

The phony “temp” gimmick is part of ACI’s “union avoidance” strategy, and the company is apparently willing to pay a high price – paying the temp agency over $19 an hour for permanent temporary workers who receive only the minimum wage of $9 an hour. Prior to July 1, 2014, ACI’s recycling workers were paid only $8.30 an hour.

Living wage violation

ACI’s decision to pay recycling workers just $9 an hour isn’t just shameful – it’s also illegal. ACI was supposed to pay workers much higher wages under the City of San Leandro’s “living wage ordinance” that became effective in 2007. The ordinance requires workers to earn $14.57 an hour without benefits or $13.07 with benefits. In a separate effort, not connected with the union organizing effort, ACI workers filed a class-action lawsuit against ACI for back-wages owed under the Living Wage ordinance. On September 24, ACI agreed to settle the lawsuit by paying the workers involved a total of $1.2 million – and confirming that ACI is the actual employer of recycling workers.

City Council support

Ironically, ACI’s questionable business practices have been unknowingly supported by ratepayers in four East Bay cities with franchise agreements obligating ACI to provide garbage and recycling services.

The largest customer is the City of San Leandro, followed by Livermore and the city of Alameda. On the evening of September 15, ACI workers attended the San Leandro City Council meeting where they announced their decision to join the ILWU and end ACI’s unethical behavior.

The following night, ACI workers went to the Alameda City Council with the same message. At both meetings, workers were well-received by City Council members who seemed shocked and surprised by ACI’s business practices.

“We’re making progress, and we saw what ILWU recycling workers have accomplished in Oakland and Fremont,” said ACI recycling worker Salvador Hernandez, “so we want to do the same thing here at ACI to help our families.”

Categories: Unions

ILWU locals raised over $70,000 for cancer research with “Walk the Coast” charity events

Fri, 10/03/2014 - 13:53

In the top right photo are members of the Port Hueneme committee. From left
to right are Karen Goldberg, Jesse Ramirez, Judy Bryant, and Jessie’s daughters
Sabrina and Xilen Ramirez (not pictured: Rita Allison).
In the top right photo from left to right are Southern California volunteer committee Dan Imbagliazzo, Robert Maynez and Isidro Felix. The center left photo shows the Los Angeles poker tournament and the center right photo was taken at the Local 10 fundraiser in San Francisco. The bottom photos are of the fundraising walk in Port Hueneme.

This August “ILWU Walk the Coast” coordinated events in three ports and raised over $70,000 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation with fundraisers sponsored by Locals 13, 63 and 94 in Los Angeles, Local 46 in Port Hueneme, and Local 10 in San Francisco. The Coast Longshore Division contributed $5,000. Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation (ALSF) was adopted by the ILWU Walk the Coast Committee as the charity of choice. ALSF raises funds for support, research and treatment of childhood cancers.

On August 9th, under direction of Jessie Ramirez and Rita Allison, Local 46 sponsored a three-kilometer fundraising walk and barbeque in Port Hueneme. The event honored a third-grader from Oxnard, Natalia Tanguma who, at the age of 4, was diagnosed with leukemia. Local 10’s event was organized by Frank Gaskin and “featured food and entertainment at the Dispatch Hall in San Francisco. Locals 13, 63 and 94 in Los Angeles, with support from the Southern California Pensioners, sponsored their very popular 3rd annual fundraising Texas Hold’em Poker Tournament.

Since its inception in 2012, ILWU Walk the Coast has raised over $221,000 for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, and an additional $46,000 to fight pancreatic cancer and $5,000 to fight ovarian cancer. This year’s fundraisers would not have been successful without a team effort. Key volunteers included Robert Maynez (Administrator, Local 63), Jessie Ramirez (Local 46), Rita Allison, (Local 46), Frank Gaskin (Local 10), Isidro Felix (Local 13) and Dan Imbagliazzo (Local 13). The Committee is hoping that next year all locals will join in the annual charity effort.

Categories: Unions

ILWU members overwhelmingly ratify new contract; grain companies agree to end lockout

Fri, 10/03/2014 - 11:33

Union proud: Local 8 nightside members returned to work at Portland’s Marubeni/Columbia Grain terminal in August after beating a 13-month lockout. Pictured L-R are: Charlie Prom, Frank Terwlliger, Gary Sykes, Dick Widdle, Nick Tufford, Matt Douglas, Jarod Hanson, Don Coddington, Mick Walker, Mike Sexton, Frank Elliot and Daryl Hansen. Photo by Kenny Oviatt

ILWU members working at Pacific Northwest grain terminals overwhelmingly voted in favor of ratifying a new contract in late August, ending an 18-month lockout imposed by Mitsui/United Grain in Vancouver, WA and a 15-month lockout by Marubeni/Columbia Grain in Portland.

Strong “yes” vote

The tentative agreement was reached just before midnight on August 11, followed by a ratification vote that yielded an 88.4% overall “yes” vote from members of Local 8 in Portland who voted 260 to 109 (70%) in favor; Local 4 members in Vancouver who voted 166 to13 (93%) in favor; Local 21 members in Longview who voted 142 to17 (89%) in favor; Local 19 members in Seattle who voted 498 to 38 (93%) in favor; and Local 23 members in Tacoma who voted 409 to 16 (96%) in favor. The total number of “yes” votes totaled 1,475 with “no” votes totaling 193.

The new pact with the Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers Association covers Louis Dreyfus Commodities, United Grain and Columbia Grain until May 31, 2018. The same agreement was also signed by TEMCO, a large grain company that broke ranks with the Northwest Gain Handlers Association early in the dispute to sign a provisional ILWU agreement covering operations in Portland, Tacoma and Kalama.

Key contract provisions

The new contract provides annual wage increases with continuation of 100% employer contributions to the ILWU/PMA pension, health & welfare, vacation and holiday plans. The new agreement parallels prior ILWU Grain agreements which permit staffing to be extended up to 12 hours with overtime pay after 8 hours. The agreement affirms ILWU jurisdiction in the overall control room, but does allow management the option to operate the console. And the new agreement does not require the use of a “Supercargo” Clerk position when vessels are loaded. Both the overtime and control room policies have been in effect at Peavey Grain since 1990.

The grain companies are not members of the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and have never had a formal bargaining relationship with the Clerks. The “Supercargo” was historically employed by a PMA member stevedore who contracted to load the grain vessels. Under the new contract, the grain companies will stevedore the vessel themselves. ILWU Local 40 has filed a lawsuit against Columbia Grain claiming that their in-house and PMA stevedore, Willamette Grain, was for all intents and purposes, Columbia Grain, and therefore covered by the Clerks and Longshore Contract Documents. To that end, provisions in the Grain Agreement were reached that will require “Supercargos” to be added to the shipboard manning at Columbia Grain if Local 40 prevails in their lawsuit.

Lengthy struggle

Negotiations for the new agreement began in August of 2012 and eventually involved more than 70 sessions before the settlement was reached. The lockouts by Columbia Grain and United Grain triggered round-the-clock picket lines that were staffed primarily by members from Locals 8 and 4, with important support from other locals and pensioners who pitched-in to help.

“We put together a plan that had everyone doing their share on a rotating basis,” explained Local 4’s Cager Clabaugh. “There were plenty of days when it was cold, dark, wet and a little miserable, but everyone stuck together and did what needed to be done.”

Pickets at home and beyond

Besides picketing in front of the plant gates, ILWU members followed grain shipments up the Columbia and Snake Rivers – where barges of grain were heading to locked-out terminals. “We had volunteers who camped-out along the river with roving picket lines that could spring-up on a moment’s notice,” said Local 4’s Brad Clark. Teams also traveled to Eastern Washington State and the Midwest to meet with farmers and explain the lockout’s impact on ILWU families downriver.

Members of the Inlandboatmen’s Union, the ILWU’s Marine Division, and the Masters, Mates & Pilots union (MMP) also did what they could to help, but their efforts were limited by a tangle of labor laws designed to impede union-to-union solidarity.

“IBU members refused to work scab cargo when we could,” said IBU President Alan Cote. He noted that the grain companies tried to create their own non-union tug and barge operations when faced with IBU resistance, but the employer strategy produced only mixed results and a few spectacular crashes.

Solidarity near and far

ILWU locals up and down the coast came to support the picket lines, including from Hawaii and Canada. Repeated trips were made by members in Southern California, from Locals 13, 63 and 94, who sent numerous caravans to Portland and Vancouver. Solidarity visits were also organized by Locals 10, 63 and 91 in the Bay Area, along with many locals in the Pacific Northwest contributing volunteers to the effort.

“In the end, we stuck together and stayed strong – but it took everyone’s help to pull it off,” said Local 8 President Mike Stanton, “and for that we thank all the officers and members of the ILWU.”

Categories: Unions

Unity and solidarity at the 47th annual Pensioners’ Convention

Fri, 10/03/2014 - 10:35

The 47th Annual Pacific Coast Pensioners Association met in Vancouver, BC from September 15-17. Photos by Lewis Wright.

The 47th annual Pacific Coast Pensioners Association (PCPA) convention met in Vancouver, British Columbia, on September 15-17. Over 200 members and guests attended this year’s convention. Topics that were discussed included the ongoing Longshore contract negotiations, the Pacific Northwest Grain Agreement, health care and the importance of international solidarity.

The convention opened with a brief welcome by Mike Marino, President of the Vancouver Pensioners Organization. The convention was dedicated to the memory of Arne Auvinen, former PCPA President who passed away on July 31st of this year, and all of the other friends and comrades lost in the past year.

PCPA President’s report

PCPA President Rich Austin, who also serves as the pensioner representative on the Longshore Negotiating Committee, gave a brief report on the ongoing contract talks. He reported that the health of the pensioners clubs was good. “The PCPA is in good shape,” said Austin. “Our treasury has grown and so has our membership. The Tacoma Pensioners Club set about to increase its membership and they more than doubled in size in the last year. Good job Tacoma. Other Clubs have also added members.” He also reported on some of his activities over the last year, including his participation on a panel at the Labor Campaign for Single Payer conference held at ILWU Local 6 in Oakland.

Austin also said that he made a presentation at the Coast Longshore Division’s “History and Traditions” conference held in San Francisco in December of 2013. He described the event in the following way: “What I observed was an example of the union at its best. The assembly was full of young, engaged and attentive brother and sisters who were thirsting for knowledge about the history of our union and the working class. As Pensioners we can play important roles in helping them learn more. The agenda of the workshop was created by the rank and file members of the Education Committee. We need more education programs geared to working class values and ideology.”

ILWU speakers

International Secretary-Treasurer Willie Adams attended the conference representing the International officers who, along with the Coast Committeemen, could not attend because they were serving on the Longshore Negotiating Committee.

Adams outlined the many attacks by employers on the wages, benefits and jurisdiction of ILWU members in recent years. He acknowledged the resilience of ILWU rank and file and officers in withstanding these attacks. “Despite it all, this union still continues to grow, organize and thrive,” Adams said. He also acknowledged the new generation of ILWU leaders who are emerging up and down the coast, whose passion, energy and commitment will be vital to the future of the ILWU.

Other ILWU speakers included ILWU Canada President Mark Gordienko, Local 13 President Bobby Olvera Jr., and Local 8 President Mike Stanton.

Visa troubles

Special guest speaker, President Jhon Jairo Castro Balanta of the Port Workers’ Union in Buenaventura, Colombia, was unable to attend because of visa problems, but the convention was still able to hear from two international speakers: Fred Krausert, National Secretary of Maritime Workers of Australia (MUA) Veterans and Jim Donavon also from the MUA Veterans. Both gave spirited talks about the common struggles that unite maritime workers all over the world. The PCPA and MUA Veterans groups enjoy strong fraternal ties. The same bonds of solidarity that link the active memberships of the ILWU and MUA survive even into retirement.

Benefits plan

ILWU Coast Benefits Specialist John Castanho gave a brief history of the ILWU’s fight for health care and pension benefits. Area directors for the benefits plan, coordinators for the Alcohol and Drug Recovery Program (ADRP) and representatives from the Benefits Plan office spoke at the convention and were available to answer questions.

ADRP Coordinator Jackie Cummings noted that there are a growing number of retirees who are raising their grandchildren and an increase in the number of teenagers abusing prescription drugs nationwide. She said that ILWU pensioners who are raising their grandchildren can seek help from the ADRP if substance abuse problems are evident.

Preserving the past

Michael McCann, Director of the Harry Bridges Center for Labor Studies at the University of Washington was on hand to talk about the important academic programs that teach students about labor and working class history and foster important ties between students, researchers, activists and labor unions.

The Labor Studies program at the University of Washington is the only labor studies program funded entirely by workers. Conor Casey from the Labor Archives of the University of Washington spoke about the importance of preserving the history of working people in the Pacific Northwest. Casey explained the resources and assistance available to local unions and individuals to help them preserve union records, correspondence and other materials that will be valuable to historians and researchers trying to understand the history of the working class.

ILWU historians Harvey Schwartz and Ron Magden attended the event and conducted over a dozen oral histories, with assistance from Casey. The interviews were videotaped and are one important way in which the experience and voice of workers is being preserved.

Fight for $15

The convention passed a resolution sponsored by the Seattle Pensioners Club to support a nation-wide $15 an hour minimum wage in the United States in order to combat the alarming number of families who are falling below the poverty line.

Honoring Arne Auvinen

The convention unanimously passed a resolution honoring past PCPA President Arne Auvinen. The resolution renamed the PCPA archives, the “Pacific Coast Pensioners Association Arne Auvinen Memorial Archives” to honor his many years of service to the ILWU and pensioners.

Jesse and Lois Stranahan Award

This year’s recipient of the Jesse and Lois Stranahan Award went to Bill Duncan of the Van-Isle Pensioners. The award is given out every year to honor an outstanding labor activist. Also receiving recognition from the convention was John Horgan, leader of the “New Democratic Party” of British Columbia, who received the PCPA Friendly Politician Award.

Mike Marino, and the PCPA officers, all praised the host committee, and especially Barry Campbell of the Vancouver Pensioners, for a job well done.

The 2015 PCPA convention will be held September 7-9th in San Francisco.

Categories: Unions

Labor’s day in the sun: Thousands of union members march in annual Wilmington Labor Day parade

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:22

Hundreds of ILWU members and their families joined in the annual Labor Day March and Picnic in Wilmington. In the top left photo, ILWU International Vice President Ray Familathe (left) marched in the parade to Banning Park and in the bottom right photo, ILWU Local 13 President Bobby Olvera, Jr., spoke at the event.

Thousands of workers and their families turned out for this year’s Labor Day parade and picnic in Wilmington, CA. The annual tradition started with a burrito breakfast at the Longshoreman’s Memorial Hall where 1,500 burritos, courtesy of the Southern California Pensioners Group, were given to marchers to fuel them through the morning.

The march started at Broad and E Streets, just a few blocks from the Local 13 Hall and ended at Wilmington’s Banning Park for a full-day of music, food, and family. The march through downtown Wilmington was led by the Color Guard. Following behind the flags was the Southern California Pensioners group riding on a flatbed trailer. They tossed candy to children and others who gathered along Avalon Blvd to watch the parade of marching bands, classic cars, and hundreds of union members from all over Los Angeles county who were proudly marching in union t-shirts and behind their union banners. International Vice President Ray Familathe represented the ILWU officers at the event. Local 13 President Bobby Olvera Jr., spoke at the event. He acknowledged the hard work and sacrifices of the workers who fought for the right to form a union and won many of the rights that union members and their families benefit from today. “If you are a union member, thank the pensioners and retirees from every union.

It’s because of them that we have the benefits that we enjoy today.” Olvera also had a message for the scores of local, state and federal elected officials who were on hand at the event. “Tell your colleagues in the legislature, city councils and Congress to get up and do something for the workers of this country.” María Elena Durazo, who heads the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, also spoke at the event. She said that the labor movement must commit itself to pushing for a minimum wage of $15 an hour in Los Angeles. Currently, 46% of workers in LA earn poverty level wages and it ranks of one of the poorest major metropolitan areas in the country.

Categories: Unions

Video: Thousand march in annual Wilmington Labor Day parade

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 16:53

Thousands of workers marched in the 35th Annual Labor Day Parade in Wilmington, CA on September 1st. CBS-LA was at the event and broadcast the following report on the parade. It includes an interview with Local 13 President Bobby Olvera, Jr.

From the CBSLA website:

WILMINGTON ( — A huge crowd gathered for the 35th annual Labor Day Parade in Wilmington Monday.

Thousands of union members and their families and friends marched to Banning Park, 1331 Eubank Avenue, where a rally and barbecue was held at noon.

The event featured speakers, music and food.

Many came for the festivities and fun but organizers said there was a serious message behind the get-together, whose theme was “Stop the War on Workers.”

“The working people are in a much worse place today than we have been in decades,” Los Angeles County labor movement official Maria Elena Durazo said. “So the level of poverty is deeper. The number of people in the middle class is much, much smaller.”

But with declining membership and strong opposition to new labor laws, union leaders said they’re picking their battles carefully. They’re currently focusing on raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“I think the minimum wage most definitely needs to be raised and I think that corporations need to take a vested interest in the health of their workers and their families,” ILWU Local 13 member Bobby Olvera, Jr. said.

Categories: Unions

Shipping containers: 60 years in the box

Thu, 08/28/2014 - 10:04

Gene Vrana, pictured in the bandanna, working on drums cargo at Pier 32, San Francisco, 1980.

On the 60th anniversary of the patent of the shipping container, the website, Tomorrow, collects seven stories with different perspectives on shipping containers and how they have changed the world. One of those perspectives is ILWU pensioner and former ILWU Education Director, Gene Vrana:


My generation, the guys that came in in the mid to late ’60s, just saw it change right before our eyes. Not only was the technology changing but the relationships on the job changed because you were no longer working in a gang of eight to 12 guys. You were working maybe two together, or even solitary, dealing with different aspects of either machinery or gear associated with machinery for moving the containers on and off the ship.

With the change in the social aspect, along with the technology, it just felt that the work experience within any day was just not the same.

I worked in a gang that only worked the old general break, bulk cargo up until ’82. Those of us that were in a gang and working with 12 other guys and talking politics and talking family and whatever, had a very different work life than guys who were driving cranes or other container moving technology where they were isolated during the work shift.

A more unpredictable schedule was more common with the container ships. The ships would come in and turn around – and we’re talking now about the ’70s and ’80s – in between 32 and 36 hours, max. The overtime shift occurs on the last shift in order to finish working the ship, getting it ready to sail.

So if they’re sailing with more frequency, the frequency of working late is greater. That kind of thing had more of an effect than on the old fashioned ship that would be in port for 7-8 days and you would go to the same ship and even the same hold of the ship day after day working from 8 ’til 5.

Read the full article here. 

Categories: Unions

PMA and ILWU Update on Contract Talks: Tentative Agreement Reached on Health Benefits, Negotiations Continue on Other Issues

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 09:38

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (August 26, 2014) – The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) announced today that they have reached a tentative agreement on terms for health benefits, subject to agreement on the other issues in the negotiations. The parties have agreed not to discuss the terms of this tentative agreement as negotiations continue.

Maintenance of health benefits (MOB) is an important part of the contract being negotiated between employers represented by the PMA and workers represented by the ILWU.

The contract being negotiated covers nearly 20,000 longshore workers at 29 West Coast ports. The previous agreement expired at 5 p.m. on July 1, 2014. Talks began on May 12 and are continuing


Download a the press release here. (PDF).

Categories: Unions

Longshore Workers’ Vote Ratifies Northwest Grain Agreement;  Union Workers to Return to Jobs on Wednesday

Tue, 08/26/2014 - 08:59

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (August 26, 2014) – Longshore workers who load grain in Pacific Northwest export terminals have voted to ratify a new collective bargaining agreement with several multinational grain companies. The vote included members of ILWU Local 8 in Portland, Ore., and Local 4 in Vancouver, Local 21 in Longview, Local 19 in Seattle, and Local 23 in Tacoma, Wash., who collectively voted 88.4% in favor of a tentative agreement with Louis Dreyfus Commodities, United Grain Corporation and Columbia Grain Inc. that will be in effect until May 31, 2018. Members voting in favor totaled 1,475; those voting against numbered 193.

Negotiations for the new agreement began in August of 2012, involved 70 separate sessions, and included lockouts at Portland’s Columbia Grain and Vancouver’s United Grain facilities. Terms of the agreement include work rule changes and wage increases over the life of the agreement.

ILWU members will resume their jobs at the locked-out facilities on Wednesday. All picketing has ceased, and the parties have agreed to drop all pending NLRB and other legal actions associated with the dispute.

Bargaining was difficult, but in the end, both sides compromised significantly from their original positions, resulting in a workable collective bargaining agreement that preserves the work of the ILWU-represented workforce and fosters stability for the export grain industry.

The men and women of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have loaded grain for export in the Pacific Northwest since 1934.

Categories: Unions

Local 4 longshoreman helps save life of Vancouver police officer

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 11:37

A Vancouver, WA police officer is alive today thanks to the medical training and quick-thinking of ILWU Local 4 longshoreman James Bridger Jr. On June 30th Bridger was leaving his neighborhood when he saw Earlene Anderson holding a police officer in her arms as he slumped to the ground. Bridger knew something was wrong and immediately stopped to help.

Officer Dustin Goudschaal had been shot several times while making a traffic stop. Anderson was driving in the opposite direction when the shooting occurred. She ran over to help after the suspect driving a black truck sped off just before Bridger came on the scene. Goudschaal had been struck several times in his bullet proof vest and once in the neck which was bleeding profusely. He was unable to speak because of his wounds.

After helping apply pressure to the bandage, he reached across Goudschaal’s chest, grabbed his radio, and yelled: “Code 33!” He said that an officer was shot and that they needed help immediately.

Bridger had worked as reserve officer with the Battle Ground Police Department and as a volunteer with Fire District 3. “Even though it’s been a few years, my training just sort of kicked in,” said Bridger. Goudschaal thanked Bridger when he visited him in the hospital the next day. “He told me, ‘It’s because of you that I’m here,’” Bridger said.

A few months earlier, Bridger’s relationship with the Vancouver police was not as friendly. Bridger had been arrested for “malicious mischief” after he was struck by a van while walking the picket line outside of the United Grain terminal. The van driver was not arrested.

Both Bridger and Anderson were honored by the Vancouver City Council on July 7 for their role in helping to save the life of Officer Goudschaal. Vancouver police officers lined the walls of the council chambers during the meeting.

Goudschaal was still recovering from the shooting and was unable to attend. A friend read a statement from Goudschaal and his wife Kate: “I choose to believe, that for whatever reason, those two good Samaritans were meant to be there in that moment to help Dustin, and for this, we are eternally grateful.”

“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Bridger said. “This was just one union brother helping another union brother. That’s the way I see it.”

Categories: Unions

47th Annual Pensioners Convention

Wed, 08/20/2014 - 11:28

The 47th Annual Convention of the Pacific Coast Pensioners Association will convene at 9:00 AM on Monday, September 15, and adjourn at about Noon on September 17, 2014.

Place: Holiday Inn – Vancouver Centre
711 West Broadway
Vancouver, British Columbia

Contact your local Pensioners Club to get a registration form and lodging information.

• Labor leaders and lawmakers from Canada will address the Convention

• ILWU Officers, the Coast Committee, and Local Officers will be join us.

• Help welcome our guests from Australia, Colombia, and perhaps other nations.

• You will hear a report on 2014 U.S. Longshore Division Negotiations.

• Information about health care and pensions will be provided.

The Vancouver Host Committee has scheduled a number of fun and exciting activities and side trips. A Banquet will be held Tuesday night. Join the fun. Enjoy a fine meal. Dance your socks off. Meet and greet old friends and new.

For more information contact your local Pensioners Club.

See you there!

In unity, Rich Austin – President, PCPA


Categories: Unions

ILWU recyclers win big raises in Oakland’s new waste franchise deal

Mon, 08/18/2014 - 12:41

An 18-month campaign by Bay Area recycling workers to improve pay and benefits hit a new milestone on July 30 when the Oakland City Council voted unanimously to raise recycler wages in the city’s new 10-year residential waste and recycling service franchise agreements.

“This victory means that ILWU recycling workers have successfully implemented their higher wage and benefit standards at two of the largest city franchises in Alameda County,” said ILWU Vice President Ray Familathe. “This is an impressive demonstration of the recyclers’ persistence and courage.”

Recyclers organize

Recyclers launched their campaign on February 2, 2013, when hundreds gathered for a historic “Convention of Recycling Workers,” at the Local 6 union hall in Oakland.

Workers employed by four different recycling firms in Alameda County attended the event. They were joined by religious, labor, immigrant rights, environmental and political allies who all pledged to support the effort for better wages and improved safety through the “Campaign for Sustainable Recycling.” At the Convention, workers voted to adopt a new wage standard that would raise hourly pay to $20 – almost double what many recycling workers were being paid – and include affordable family health benefits.

Action at Waste Management

Recycling workers employed by Waste Management in Oakland and San Leandro led the way early in the campaign by demanding raises, even before last February’s Convention of Recycling Workers. Rank-and-file union leaders met on weekends in the Local 6 union hall to make plans for involving co-workers in the campaign to win a raise. They circulated petitions and held meetings with management.

When the company refused to support a request for real raises, workers protested in front of the company’s headquarters in Oakland. Then the company retaliated against immigrant workers, so an “unfair labor practices” strike was organized on March 15. The protest shut down the company’s East Bay operation beginning at 2am. Teamster and Machinist Union officials agreed to support the strike for several hours. Within months, the company agreed to settle separate ILWU contracts covering ILWU workers at the landfill and clerical/customer service units – but not recyclers.

Victory in Fremont

The first success in adopting the new wage standard was achieved last December by 65 recycling workers employed by the BLT recycling company in Fremont. Like the Waste Management workers, recyclers in Fremont also organized actions on the job to demand raises. They circulated petitions and presented them to management as a group to demonstrate unity.

When the company agreed to work together with the union, they jointly approached Fremont City Council members about passing a modest residential rate increase of just one penny per day from each ratepayer so recyclers could earn a living wage of $20.94 by 2019. The Council adopted the small rate increase and the company agreed to begin paying the scheduled pay raises.

Management sparks big strike

Unlike the experience with BLT in Fremont, officials at Waste Management and California Waste Solutions continued opposing real raises for recycling workers during 2013. Both companies offered recyclers only meager raises and refused to cooperate with workers by approaching the City Council about including the new wage standard in the city’s pending franchise agreement. Frustrations reached a boiling point on July 30 when workers from both companies united in a joint strike action. Two hundred recycling workers converged on the Oakland City Hall where their noisy picket lines and rally received major media attention – and plenty of notice from elected officials.

Groups of workers met during the day with City Council members and state legislators. They gathered in the late afternoon for a rally on the City Hall steps, then went inside to speak at the City Council meeting. Dozens of workers spoke at the rally and meeting, explaining why their families needed the raises to survive, and urged the Council to include a recycling wage standard in the new franchise agreement.

Community support

The efforts by workers in Fremont and Oakland were supported by allies in the Campaign for Sustainable Recycling (CSR) who attended Council meetings, sent letters of support, and joined workers to meet with individual Council members. Organizations participating in the CSR include the Sierra Club San Francisco Bay Chapter, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, Worksafe, Faith Alliance for a Moral Economy, East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project, Center for Environmental Health, Northern California Recycling Association, California Immigrants Policy Center, Mujeres Unidas & Activas, Clean Energy Alliance, Communities for a Better Environment, and SEIU 1021.

Disappointment with WM

After 18 months of worker and community action, the Oakland City Council voted unanimously on July 30, 2014 to include the new recycler wage standard in their franchise agreement. This marked an important victory – but it also disappointed 130 recycling workers employed by Waste Management (WM) because that firm’s bid to continue providing those services for another 10 years was unanimously rejected by the City Council.

Waste Management has been collecting all of Oakland’s residential waste and processing half the City’s recycling for decades, but that work will now end on July 1, 2015 when California Waste Solutions assumes all those responsibilities.

Without the new Oakland franchise agreement and revenue stream it provides for worker wage increases, Waste Management is less likely to provide recyclers the same pay raises that are now part of Oakland’s new franchise agreement with California Waste Solutions (CWS).

Surprising shake-up

The City Council’s vote surprised observers who thought Waste Management was likely to continue sharing the franchise agreement with CWS, a much smaller, locally-owned competitor who employs unionized mechanics and drivers.

Labor relations factor

But the bid submitted by Waste Management was more expensive for ratepayers than the one submitted by CWS. And CWS included some extra services in their bid which appealed to Council members. Officials at both Waste Management and California Waste Solutions initially resisted supporting the pay raises sought by recycling workers that became part of the new franchise agreement. A few days before the final City Council hearing on July 30, California Waste Solutions signed a new contract with Local 6 members that guaranteed a schedule of pay raises and family health benefits with no monthly premium cost share.

On the day of the City Council decision, Waste Management officials met with the Local 6 Negotiating Committee and made significant movement, but failed to reach agreement. As The Dispatcher was going to press, a follow-up meeting had been scheduled for August 12.

ILWU leaders and staff refused to take sides or play favorites with either company during the franchise selection process, because ILWU members were employed by both firms.

Rubbed the wrong way

At the City Council meeting on July 30, it was clear that Waste Management had rubbed City Council members the wrong way. During the meeting, one Council member recalled how the company had angered many by locking-out Teamster and Machinist union members during a month-long contract dispute in 2007 that brought the city’s garbage collection to a halt and triggered a public health crisis.

During that dispute, ILWU recycling workers courageously honored the Teamster and Machinist union picket lines, despite threats and retaliation from Waste Management. The company’s decision to outsource dozens of Oakland-based customer service jobs done by ILWU members after the lockout was cited as a sore point by several City Council members. City Council members also complained that top Waste Management officials showed a lack of “flexibility” and were “unwilling to compromise.” When the meeting was over and the vote was taken, not a single member of the City Council supported Waste Management.

Some layoffs possible When Waste Management’s franchise agreement with Oakland expires next July, there will be some layoffs at Waste Management, but it is not clear how many. The city’s new franchise agreement includes a provision – supported by the union – allowing workers to transfer from Waste Management to new positions at California Waste Solutions. There may be waiting lists for some jobs.
Another route to raises

Fortunately, Waste Management has franchise agreements with other cities besides Oakland that provide the company with a steady revenue stream and secure employment for recycling workers, even after the July 2015 franchise agreement expires with Oakland. The other franchise agreements are with the cities of Emeryville, Albany, and Hayward plus the Castro Valley and Ora Loma Sanitation Districts.

Elected officials in those cities can authorize tiny rate increases that will provide enough revenue for Waste Management to pay better wages and good benefits for recycling workers.

“We’ve learned from the Oakland experience and can apply those lessons as we approach other cities for their support to help us – and it will only cost those residents a few pennies a month to provide us with living wages and decent benefits,” said Waste Management recycling worker Xiomara Martinez.

Extending a hand

Local 6 will continue extending a hand to Waste Management officials in an effort to achieve the same labor management cooperation that helped recycling workers in Fremont.

“We’re hoping that officials from the company and other unions will work with us this time, because all of us should be working together to solve this problem,” said recycling worker Mirella Jauregui.

Categories: Unions

Video: Local 6 Rank & File Leader Alejandra Leon and the Sustainable Recycling campaign

Fri, 08/15/2014 - 09:43

Too often, the zero waste workers in our community get zero respect. Check out this great video of Alejandra Leon – recycling sorter at Waste Management and worker leader of ILWU Local 6 – Sustainable Recycling • Justicia Para Recicladores campaign speaking at the “Race, Class & Ecology” series. sponsored by the group, Movement Generation.  Alejandra tells her story of struggling to survive on poverty wages paid to recycling workers, yet “The work that my coworkers and I do gives us great pride because we are among the few people doing something for our planet.”

Categories: Unions

Longshore Caucus reconvenes to consider contract negotiations

Wed, 08/13/2014 - 11:15

ILWU Longshore Caucus delegates reconvened in San Francisco on July 21 and 22 to review the status of ongoing Longshore contract negotiations.

Caucus Chair Joe Cortez quickly brought the session to order, then turned over the podium to International President Bob McEllrath who asked delegates to dedicate their meeting in memory of former Local 13 member and Caucus delegate Alberto Bonilla, who died unexpectedly on May 17 at the age of 43. His son, Albert Bonilla, Jr., attended the Caucus and was recognized by delegates with a warm and sustained standing ovation.

Other dedications for fallen members included Armando Castro and Dwayne Washington from Local 10 in the Bay Area; former Local 12 President Wally Robbins of Coos Bay, Oregon; Night Business Agent and Executive Committee member John “Johnny Canuck” Collins from Local 502 of Surrey, British Columbia, Canada; Gerald Pirtilla of Local 52 in Seattle and Jeffrey Jewell of Local 24 in Aberdeen.

The 88 Caucus delegates were joined by dozens of fraternal representatives from Hawaii, Alaska and Canada who came to express their solidarity, along with many Pensioners who attended from the Bay Area and beyond.

McEllrath recognized International Vice President-Hawaii, Wesley Furtado who attended with Hawaii Longshore Division Negotiating Chairman Elgin Calles, Co-Chairman Dustin Dawson, Spokesman William Haole and Business Agent Dennis Morton. Chairman Elgin Calles provided a brief overview of the Hawaii Longshore Division’s contract negotiation effort, noting that they have been in talks with their employers for about two months.

Also recognized was ILWU Canada President Mark Gordienko who attended the Caucus with Business Agent Reno Voci. “I’ve made it clear to our employers that we won’t be touching any U.S.-bound cargo if there’s trouble,” said Gordienko. He also described how ILWU Canada members have been conducting outreach efforts to educate crewmembers on grain ships involved in the lockout by Mitsui-United and Columbia-Marubeni Grain companies. “When those ships come north, we’re talking with crewmembers and educating them about the ILWU struggle.”

Delegates thanked outgoing Puget Sound and Washington Area Benefits Director Nick Buckles, who is retiring at the end of July. His replacement, Andrea Stevenson, was recently appointed by the Plan Trustees. The former Local 52 President and 3rd generation longshore worker from Seattle thanked Nick Buckles, saying she had “big shoes to fill.”

McEllrath outlined the status of the negotiations, emphasizing the Committee’s efforts to maintain good health and pension benefits. He said the ILWU has consistently worked to see that the health plans operate properly, and has long urged employers to come forward with any evidence of waste or abuse so it can be addressed without harming beneficiaries. McEllrath noted a July 16 announcement by federal prosecutors that three individuals associated with a private surgical center in Southern California have been charged with defrauding several insurance plans, including the ILWU/ PMA Coastwise Indemnity Plan.

McEllrath minced no words, saying: “I’m glad to see that the government’s doing their job. Crooks who break the law and take advantage of our health care plans belong in jail.”

Local 13 President Bobby Olvera, Jr. was equally passionate about protecting the health plan from fraud. “I was born into this plan and our families depend on it. Anyone who defrauds us is harming our families – and all the members who came before us who sacrificed so we can enjoy these benefits today. The people who perpetrate fraud against our plan deserve no mercy as far as I’m concerned.”

The Caucus did not set a time to reconvene, but President McEllrath said delegates should be ready to meet quickly at a future date that will be dictated by the progress – or lack of progress – at negotiations.

“We’ve got a plan to get things done that meets the goals adopted by the Caucus, but I can’t tell you how soon we will finish. Just keep pumpin’ and don’t listen to any rumors,” he said.

Categories: Unions

Tentative Agreement for Northwest Grain

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 13:59

A tentative agreement for a new contract covering grain terminals in the Pacific Northwest was reached on August 11, by a negotiating committee representing five ILWU local unions: Local 4 in Vancouver, Local 8 in Portland, Local 19 in Seattle, and Local 21 in Longview and Local 92 in Portland. The membership of each local will review the tentative agreement and vote according to their internal rules, with results to be announced August 25. Terms of the agreement will not be made public until members have a chance to review and vote on the tentative agreement which covers Mitsui-United Grain (UGC) in Vancouver, Marubeni-Columbia Grain in Portland, and Louis Dreyfus in Portland and Seattle.  Reduced picket lines will remain at Mitsui-UGC and at Marubeni-Columbia Grain while members vote on the agreement.


Categories: Unions

FMCS Statement on Tentative Agreement Between the ILWU and Pacific Northwest Grain Handlers

Tue, 08/12/2014 - 10:59

From the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Scot L. Beckenbaugh, Acting Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), issued the following statement today on a tentative agreement reached just prior to midnight (PST) last evening between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and Pacific Northwest Grain Companies.

“After engaging in difficult and contentious bargaining for over two years, including multiple marathon mediation sessions held under the auspices of the FMCS, the announcement of the tentative agreement, subject to the ratification of ILWU membership, represents an amazing achievement of a potentially positive outcome in a labor dispute that has gained national attention.

“The ILWU, with its recommendation, will submit the tentative agreement to its members for ratification.

“The FMCS commends both labor and management representatives for their successful negotiation and for their commitment and dedication to the process of collective bargaining. Clearly the parties maintained strongly held competing views on the many issues that divided them during this process. In the end they found a way, in the time-honored tradition of the collective bargaining process, to reach mutually agreeable solutions that will allow the employees and the employers to move forward in their relationship. Equally important to our nation, is the knowledge that this tentative agreement, subject to the approval of affected ILWU membership, represents the opportunity to ensure that grain exports important to the U.S. economy and the world will proceed without disruption for years to come.

“These were difficult and contentious negotiations to be certain. I am grateful for the professionalism and cooperation the parties exhibited in mediation process during which they were able to reach what they believe will be acceptable and mutually beneficial solutions to the issues which have separated them for so long. I especially commend the leadership demonstrated by the representatives of ILWU and the representatives of the Grain Handlers. Though fierce in their representation of their respective positions, they never lost sight of their responsibility to reach a mutually acceptable solution.

“On a personal note, I want to commend the extraordinary efforts of FMCS Director of Mediation Services, Beth Schindler and FMCS Commissioner Gary Hattal who provided mediation assistance to the parties during some of the most difficult times in the negotiations process.”

Out of respect for the ratification process and consistent with the Agency’s longstanding policy on confidentiality, FMCS will neither comment on nor disclose the terms of the agreement.

# # #

The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, created in 1947, is an independent U.S. government agency whose mission is to preserve and promote labor-management peace and cooperation. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 10 district offices and 67 field offices, the agency provides mediation and conflict resolution services to industry, government agencies and communities.

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Contact: John Arnold, Director, Office of Public Affairs
Web site:
Phone: (202) 606-8100

Categories: Unions