No-go-tiations …

A few days ago we covered a report about management and labor officials presently engaged in seaport contractual negotiations. As expected, the report contained the usual refrains:

• “The past six months has seen growing calls to expedite … due to labor unrest at the ports making life even more difficult for exporters … ”;

• “… in the current mood of upheavals, and with current labor relations within the port communities, it will be impossible to, etc., etc….”;

• “The chairman … also agreed that an accord with the workers would be essential …”;

• “… the company’s management said that handling and workshop workers are staging a slowdown, despite union promises … ”;

• “Labor relations at the port … have worsened as of late. An increasingly acrimonious dispute centers on remuneration received by workers in the framework of the management’s efficiency program. The gap between the parties is currently a large one, say sources involved in the talks.”

“Acrimonious dispute … remuneration … management’s efficiency program ”… expressions that one might expect to see in reports covering the ILWU and PMA port negotiations on the country’s West Coast. But we took those expressions from a Haaretz news article that we reviewed last week.

We were particularly interested in pointing out a suggestion put forth by Avi Edri, an Israeli labor leader, who stated that, “Port workers aren’t afraid of change, but seek a worker-partner approach by the government …”

“Certainly, if we become shareholders,” he said, “our mind-set would be different from what it has been up until now.”

And speaking of mind-sets, an amicable worker-partner approach is what we’ve been advocating for the past dozen years or so. Our press releases have repeatedly called for positioning union officials on the board of directors of each port. Along with this innovative step, in every one of those press releases we proposed that an annual payout of 4% of the port’s gross annual income be paid to the unions servicing the ports.

These innovations would guarantee efficiency and productivity to the port – which would please management – and lucrative wages to port workers – which would please labor.

[The fly-in-the-ointment, however, is the distinct possibility that those who profit from unrest and disagreement – the negotiators – would have to find real jobs.]