Cool heads prevail for first Oakland bridge steel load
A federal mediator on Tuesday was able to reach a short-term understanding between union labor and the California Department of Transportation over the loading of steel bridge parts from a Chinese vessel.
The International Longhsore and Warehouse Union claimed that they were denied the right to unload a ship which arrived at the Port of Oakland's Pier 7 on Dec. 26 carrying bulk steel to be used by Caltrans in a $1.4 billion replacement of the Bay Bridge's eastern span.
However, instead of hiring members of the ILWU's Local 10, Caltrans allocated the work of unloading the vessel Zhen Hua to two other unions, including the Iron Workers and the Operating Engineers. Members of the IWOE typically handle unloading barges of construction material coming from nearby U.S. ports.
The ship sat idle over the weekend as police monitored ILWU members picket lines set up at the port. The union is contesting who has responsibility for unloading the Zhen Hua and the construction material.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that ILWU workers will be hired to handle the ship's lines at the dock, while the other unions will operate the cranes to unload the steel.
'At least 10 more ships full of steel for the bridge are due to arrive in the next year; nothing has been decided about how they will be handled,' the newspaper said.