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Reefer madness costs ILWU $60,000

Reefer madness costs ILWU $60,000
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has been ordered to pay $59,628 in costs after for unlawfully breaching a ban on work stoppages and slowdowns in Oregon.

The case concerns union actions at International Container Terminal Services International's (ICTSI) Oregon Terminal 6 between July 2012 and August 2013 related to a dispute over who gets to connect, disconnect and monitor reefer boxes at Oregon's Terminal 6, the members of ILWU or the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

A court injunction was put in place to prevent work slow downs and stoppages by the union, but the court found that ILWU's Local 8 branch wilfully and intentionally violated that injunction to try and secure the reefer work for its members.

In May 2012, average gross moves per hour at terminal 6 were 24.8, between 1 June and 19 July 2012 when the court issued its injunction, productivity had fallen to 16.9 moves per hour. From 20 July 2012 to 11 August 2012 productivity improved to 20 gross moves per hour, still a "statistically and economically significant" decline over historical averages.

An expert ruled out other internal and external factors as causes of the productivity decline, including the vessels, weather, terminal equipment and software. The expert noticed a sharp increase in reports of electrical and mechanical equipment problems, which remained elevated through the injunction period and did not themselves account for the productivity decline.

In the run up to the dispute, ILWU Coast Committeeman Leal Sundet threatened ICTSI’s ceo Elvis Ganda on a number of occassions.

From the court documents, "Sundet threatened, among other things, that if the reefer work was not assigned to ILWU members: (1) ICTSI “would pay the price;” (2) ILWU can “f***” ICTSI; (3) Sundet “can f*** [ICTSI] badly;” (4) Sundet would make sure that Hanjin Shipping Co. Ltd. (Hanjin), the Port’s largest carrier, did not renew its contract with ICTSI when the then-current contract expired; and (5) the PMA could fine and expel ICTSI."

Sundet also threatened that as well as Hanjin, the union would "send Hapag-Lloyd packing." Hapag-Lloyd and Hanjin accounted for 98% of the ICTSI's work at terminal 6 at the time, but Hanjin has since stopped calling at the terminal.

The verdict was given on 16 December 2014 by Judge Michael Simon, and the judge ruled that the ILWU must pay the legal fees and expenses of the National Labour Board relating to the court action.