ILWU RESPONDS TO PMAÆS COMPLAINT TO JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
The International Longshore & Warehouse Union has filed a response with the U.S. Department of Justice, saying a claim made by the Pacific Maritime Association “distorted the facts at the heart of the backlog facing the West Coast ports.”
The ILWU cited “management’s continued refusal to address personnel, congestion and safety issues that are affecting productivity on the docks.”
The union’s response was addressed to Shannen W. Coffin, deputy assistant attorney general, at the Justice Department's civil division for federal programs. The ILWU complained about the 'tone' of a previous communication from Coffin to the union ” which in our view demonstrates a lack of impartiality in this matter.”
Charles Miller, a Justice Department spokesman, told Shippers NewsWire Wednesday that “we are looking both at the PMA’s complaint and at all of the material sent yesterday by the ILWU, and we will be fair and evenhanded in our consideration of all documents submitted by either party.”
Further in its response, the ILWU said Coffin expresses “the premature and inappropriate conclusion that ‘while a certain amount of inefficiency might have been expected those first few days (of the injunction), we would expect that they have been sorted out by now, nearly three weeks after entry of the temporary restraining order on Oct. 8, 2002.’ It is difficult to understand why you would choose to express such presumptions without having even reviewed the evidence,” the ILWU said.
Coffin’s office had no comment. Steve Sugerman, a spokesman for the PMA, told Shippers NewsWire: “these matters are now in the hands of the Justice Department, and we’ll see what happens next. The PMA is confident that the evidence of union slowdowns that was part of the PMA complaint will be persuasive.”
'The ILWU response accused the PMA of petitioning the Justice Department “not only to turn a blind eye to its repeated failures to work jointly with the union to ameliorate the backlog of cargo on the docks, but also to take its side in each of the disputes, in effect handling (the PMA) the victories it has been unable to achieve through the parties’ grievance procedures.”
The union’s response was signed by Richard Zuckerman, an attorney with the San Francisco firm of Leonard, Carder, Nathan, Zuckerman, Ross, Chin & Remar LLP. The injunction proceeding has the official title of “United States vs. Pacific Maritime Association, et al.,” No. C 02-04859 WHA.
The ILWU also said it would send a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft asking him to direct the White House “to release the names of individuals who (have) attended meetings with the administration regarding the PMA’s dispute with the union.”
The ILWU said it was not invited “to participate in any meetings to offer an employee perspective, reinforcing the appearance that the Administration is only interested in hearing one side of the story.”
The PMA’s spokesman declined to comment Wednesday on the issue of who attended the meetings cited, and why the ILWU was allegedly not included.