Contract Bridge

From the February 3, 2008 issue of the FINANCIAL TIMES we got the following story.

This was the lead in: “Threat of disruption hangs over US ports”

“Vital west coast ports in the US could face significant disruption after a key contract between workers and employers expired and unions refused to allow a temporary extension.

“The six-year contract for the 29 ports in California, Oregon and Washington states expired at 5pm Pacific Time on Tuesday without agreement on a new contract between employers and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

“The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents port employers, has asked for a temporary extension to the contract, which would keep the union bound to clauses ruling out strikes and go-slows and allowing for arbitration of local disputes. However, the union has rejected the calls, leading the PMA to fear workers could start working slowly or otherwise disrupting work.

“The ports covered by the contract include the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which together account for 40 per cent of the US’s container imports and are the country’s main gateway for trade with China …”

“The PMA said late on Wednesday that, while the union had said it would keep working normally following the expiry of the latest contract, it regretted their refusal to agree to a formal extension …”

“However, the most contentious issue in the ports is likely to be the role of new technology. Many ILWU members currently have highly-paid jobs as clerks checking containers or in other roles that ports elsewhere in the world have abolished through using better technology. The ILWU has persistently resisted the introduction of technology it believes threatens jobs …”

Let’s imagine that our patented systems had been retrofitted throughout the 29 west coast ports over the last six years. If that had been the case, PMA and ILWU officials would be spending the Fourth of July long weekend at family barbeques, or golfing, or fishing, or enjoying some other form of entertainment. One thing is sure, they wouldn’t be squabbling over a contract.

• For starters, our systems would have union officials sitting on terminals’ boards of directors, and this innovation would do away with customary labor/management animosities.
• Our system’s acre-saving features make it possible to expand terminal facilities and accommodate increasing volumes during periods of growth.
• As expansion takes place and volumes increase our systems would require more employees … not less, which is the aim of almost every management strategy.

And those are just starters. Other benefits are shown on this website’s “Problems & Solutions” page.