Wearing Blinders

“Port of Portland longshore union intentionally slowed work at Terminal 6, NLRB judge rules”

That’s how Joseph Rose at OregonLive.com. began his report last week.

“In a blow to the longshoreman union’s lengthy showdown with the Port of Portland, a National Labor Relations Board judge found the International Longshore and Warehouse Union guilty of intentional slowdowns at North Portland’s crucial Terminal 6.

“The 18-page decision written by administrative law judge Jeffrey D. Wedekind in San Francisco, orders ILWU and its Local 8 and Local 40 affiliates in Portland ‘to cease and desist from engaging in such unlawful secondary conduct.’

“There’s ample evidence that the intentional slowdowns occurred between September 2012 and June 2013, Wedekind ruled.

“For two years, the ILWU, which loads and unloads cargo at port terminals, has been engaged in increasingly nasty disputes with ICTSI Oregon, the Philippine-owned conglomerate that operates Terminal 6 for the Port under a 25-year lease.

“In recent years, the Port has become concerned about the pace of work at Oregon’s only deep-draft container yard. Slow work, labor disputes and cargo-handling interruptions have backed up trucks, delayed and rerouted ships, spawned lawsuits and almost persuaded Hanjin Shipping Co. to end its weekly Portland vessel calls.

“The ILWU has refused to cooperate with Gov. John Kitzhaber’s analysis of the situation at the container terminal, calling it a ‘sham.’

“In February, the Port began an incentive program offering extra payments – capped at $ 4 million a year – to container carriers who continue to end ships to Portland. The compensation package, the third in as many years, is intended to offset concerns about the slow turnaround times by Hanjin and other shipping companies …”

We’ll stop right there.

“An incentive program offering extra payments” … to the container carriers? Are we reading that right? The longshoreman are the ones getting the short end of the stick – and would easily be mollified by a boost in pay – but the “incentive offering extra payments” is awarded to the carriers?

Is it any wonder that the union is engaged in intentional slowdowns? The NLRB judge, and the Port of Portland officials as well, must be wearing blinders. Throw that incentive package at those longshoremen and you’ll see how quickly operations will be speeded up.