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American ShipperContainerMaritimeNewsOcean shippingShipping

Jury awards $93.6 million to former operator of Port of Portland container terminal

ILWU asks U.S. District Court to delay a jury award to stevedoring firm that formerly operated Port of Portland’s Terminal 6 from 2011 to 2017.

A federal jury has awarded $93.6 million to ICTSI Oregon, the former operator of the Port of Portland’s Terminal 6, after members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) engaged in illegal work practices such as work slowdowns and stoppages.

According to the Portland Oregonian newspaper, attorneys for the ILWU asked U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon to delay entering the judgment against the union until Nov. 12.

ICTSI Oregon, a subsidiary of Philippines-based International Container Terminal Services Inc., (ICT:PM) managed Terminal 6 for the Port of Portland from 2011 to 2017. It was the port’s main container terminal.

A dispute arose with the ILWU after the union contended that its members should be performing “reefer work” at the terminal. This included plugging and unplugging refrigerated containers and monitoring the equipment. The work had been performed by members of a different union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

ICTSI said it did not have the authority as to who performed the reefer work and that the Port of Portland retained control over the work.

At prior proceedings it was determined that the ILWU and its Local 8 had engaged in unlawful job actions between May 21, 2012, and Aug. 13, 2013, over the reefer work dispute.

Based on earlier proceedings, Judge Simon said the court accepted as proven fact that “between June 1 and June 10, 2012, ILWU members engaged in slowdowns, work stoppages, safety gimmicks and other acts with the objective of obtaining the reefer work for ILWU members, which constituted unlawful labor practices” and that union leaders had threatened that steamship lines would not continue to do business with ICTSI in Portland.

ICTSI claimed that unlawful job actions continued until it shut down the terminal in 2017, causing it harm and damages.

The Oregonian reported that the union’s attorney said any continuing job actions were related to bargaining for a new contract and were legal.

The ILWU contended any poor production experienced at Terminal 6 after August 2013 was caused by ICTSI’s creation of a hostile work environment, including retaliating or taking reprisals against ILWU members for their initial pursuit of the dockside reefer work and for other lawful union activity.

The union also contended that ICTSI’s closure at Terminal 6 was caused by “ICTSI’s own mismanagement, the constraints of the Columbia River regarding oceangoing shipping and the financial troubles faced by the ocean carriers themselves that were unrelated to any actions taken by the ILWU or Local 8.”

The Oregonian also reported a union attorney said workers were treated as “donkeys.”

American Shipper was unable to get an immediate comment from the ILWU or the attorneys representing the union or ICTSI.

Hanjin, a Korean container carrier, became insolvent in 2016 after a global downturn in the container shipping industry.

After productivity at the terminal plummeted, shipping lines including Hanjin, Hapag-Lloyd and Hamburg-Sud stopped calling Portland, and the port eventually ended its lease with ICTSI Oregon.

According to the Oregonian, attorneys for the ILWU asked the judge to delay entering the judgment against the union until Nov. 12, saying it would impose a heavy burden on the union, possibly bankrupting it.

Elvis Ganda, president and chief executive officer North America, ICTSI Oregon said “We are grateful to the jury for its diligence in dealing with a very complicated case and holding the appropriate parties responsible for violations of the law that resulted in the critical impairment of operations at Oregon’s only container terminal. The jury’s decision validates ICTSI’s determination to seek justice in an unfortunate situation that impacted many local businesses, communities and the people that depended on Terminal 6 as a vital connection to international trade.”

Terminal 6 is now being used as an intermodal rail terminal to transfer containers moving to and from terminals in Seattle and Tacoma.

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Chris Dupin

Chris Dupin has written about trade and transportation and other business subjects for a variety of publications before joining American Shipper and Freightwaves.

7 Comments

  1. Something is amiss here .

    I don’t think we’re getting the whole story . Without siding with either party and to remain fair we need a little more information .

    Who is ICTSI ? What is their reputation concerning worker treatment etc ?

    Perhaps “ICTSI Exposed”(google it) would be a good start .

    Two wrongs certainly don’t make a right . That being said something appears to be missing here . People don’t usually put their jobs at risk nor the welfare of their community etc by threatening to shut someone down unless something extremely grave and unreasonable is occurring . However , these days people are so easily manipulated by their leaders and unreasonably follow them blindly .

    Until further evidence is produced , from my perspective two bullies got in a fight and one of them got knocked down . The Union used poor judgement . The union should have been wiser . $94 Million is a costly lesson that one should learn from and realize that perhaps they should change their strategy . However, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to profits generated by typical union tactics . The ‘you win some and you lose some” mentality needs to change to “you win them all ” .

    In my humble opinion ……….

    1. While I agree with your assessment that we probably do not have the whole story, I also disagree with your position that people don’t usually put their jobs at risk unless something extremely grave and unreasonable is occurring.

      Living in a union state, and working in multiple union environments, I have watched as union actions resulted in the shuttering of business after business. In many cases the supposed concerns of the unions were not about the wages, rather about ‘work rules’ that the union made so onerous that businesses could no longer remain competitive in the marketplace. The result is that industries that were in the state for well over a century no longer exist in the state today, while production has been moved offshore.

      The failure of management and unions to work together to keep American jobs American falls on both sides. Union leaders made fortunes at the expense of good paying jobs, while financial managers continued to make profits by shifting the work offshore. Neither party really cared much about the workers here in the U.S.

      This was a work rules case – who owned the work IBEW or ILWU. Both unions have extremely high wages, but the battle resulted in the loss of work for all. The loss of work resulted because steamship line customers no longer could afford to bring their goods through the Portland port because of the costs associated with delayed cargo, so they routed their goods to other ports where operations were not being hindered by union activity. Eventually container volumes, and costs associated with port delays made it unprofitable for carriers to call on the port any longer. Yet union rules were such that certain union workers got paid very high wages, regardless of whether there was work or not. Eventually port operators could no longer afford to keep operations going.

      There is always more to the story.

      1. I’m assuming you missed this part in regards to your “disagreement”

        Quote myself :
        “However , these days people are so easily manipulated by their leaders and unreasonably follow them blindly . ”

        In my humble opinion ………

        1. So we actually are in agreement on most things, except the “People don’t usually put their jobs at risk nor the welfare of their community etc by threatening to shut someone down unless something extremely grave and unreasonable is occurring” part.

          I watched people threaten to, and actually shut down shops time after time, when the differences between sides seemed to be minimal, and nothing grave or unreasonable was occurring.

          1. Nothing grave or unreasonable was occurring ? That would depend on one’s interpretation .

            Some would also interpret the way truck drivers are treated to be “nothing grave ” . I beg to differ . And if most truckers had their way , they would shut down the economy through a collective strike as occurred in Brazil , & Portugal on a smaller scale . Now do you think they would be willing(and some trying) to go to such extremes because ” nothing grave is occurring” ?

            I’ll agree to disagree in regards to ICTSI . If big corporations weren’t so abusive unions wouldn’t exist .

            I believe that the ICTSI is an unfair employer and abusive based on the ITF report . I certainly could dig deeper ,however, it shall suffice . And as I said in my first comment , two wrongs don’t make a right . Therefore I don’t agree with the union’s behavior . They should have been wiser .

            Once again , most people wouldn’t put their jobs at risk nor the welfare of their community by threatening to shut someone down unless something extremely grave and unreasonable is occurring . That being said , HOWEVER , these days people are so easily manipulated and unreasonably follow their leader blindly . It doesn’t take much to work up a group emotionally and to get them to act irrationally , ie; herd mentality .

            You say black , I say white , let’s leave it at that .

            In my humble opinion ……….

  2. Good lord if the ILWU isn’t basically the new version of Johnny Friendly on rhe waterfront. They take 10hrs to repair a chassis that should take two hours amd just walk off the job unannounced in Oakland. They really think the ports work for them.

  3. Back in November 2017 there was an article written on the ILWU by Stan Greer titled :

    “Big Labor-Instigated Strife Obliterates Dockworkers’ Jobs in Portland”

    I would like to quote his ending paragraph

    Quote:
    “Power-crazed ILWU bosses who were willing to hog-tie shipping operations in Portland to get what they wanted are certainly culpable for the job losses, but even more culpable are the politicians who decades ago instituted and today perpetuate union-boss monopoly control over employees. The “exclusive” bargaining privileges for Big Labor enshrined in federal labor law encourage abuses of power. No one should be surprised when fiascoes such as the one experienced by the Port of Portland and its dockworkers over the past half-a-decade are the result.”

    Before I express my point of view on what he said in that paragraph , I’ll divide the “Union” into two categories .

    1- The Union “laborers”
    2- The Union “Bosses/leaders”

    In regards to the paragraph above , I’ll divide it into parts .

    The first part :
    “Power-crazed ILWU bosses who were willing to hog-tie shipping operations in Portland to get what they wanted are certainly culpable for the job losses,”

    In response to Sam who replied to my comments above , I stated : ” However , these days people are so easily manipulated by their leaders and unreasonably follow them blindly . ”

    The author of the article in November 2017 from which I quoted the paragraph above is precisely pointing out the “instigators” (leaders)which is in agreement with my statement .

    Therefore if the union “leaders/bosses” are enticing laborers of the union into wrong doing they are the one’s that need to be addressed . That certainly doesn’t exempt the “perpetrators/labourers ” from any wrong doing and they themselves should be held accountable for their actions , however , they were “influenced/manipulated” into doing so by their union “leaders/bosses”.

    And once again in my comments above I stated that two wrongs don’t make a right . Laborers should not allow themselves to be influenced into committing a wrong even though they are being “wronged” . You don’t respond to an abuser by becoming one yourself . That’s key number one .

    Then the author continues by stating :
    ” but even more culpable are the politicians who decades ago instituted and today perpetuate union-boss monopoly control over employees. ”

    Politicians offered people a right and a means to respond “responsibly” towards employer(etc) oppression . So we can’t blame politicians if people are abusing of their liberty and choosing to commit a wrong . Otherwise we should simply ban freedom all together , and that in of itself would be highly inhumane .

    Therefore we have laws that hold people accountable for their actions . And as the article above here on Freightwaves demonstrates , quote : “Jury awards $93.6 million to former operator of Port of Portland container terminal ” due to ILWU’s wrongful behavior .

    That being said , I don’t know if ILWU has an “agenda” and or what ILWU’s “agenda” is . However , if this sort of union leader abusive behavior is rampant then it should be investigated just as the ITF is asking for the ICTSI to be investigated for wrong doings .

    Of course I blame the union leaders for wrongful influence over their members . Although members need to wake up and take responsibility and not just follow someone blindly .

    You and I live in the same world . We see the same things , and yes Unions tend to act like bullies in their response to ill treatment or use that ill treatment as an excuse to fulfill an agenda through unlawful behavior . This sort of mentality is what I believe is old school and needs to change . You shouldn’t respond to a bully by becoming one .

    History has lessons we can learn from extremely effective “protesters” who wanted a change . I don’t necessarily agree with tactics of putting your followers in harms way .

    One such historical protest leader is a man that went by the name : Mahatma Gandhi . A frail man that used the power between his two ears and acted ethically to create a change . And a change he created and obtained . Even though he managed to bring his people to freedom , many of his tactics put them in harms way . And this is where my mentality differentiates . I do not believe in putting people in harms way to create and obtain a change . I believe in being wise and outsmarting the adversary through different strategies and actions .

    Unfortunately in our day and age “Unions” haven’t learned from history . Therefore they tend to repeat it and put their members in harms way . I believe that if you want a change then you must become that change .

    An example : From a business perspective . Rather than “fight” the oppressor(s) , why not position oneself to “compete” with the oppressor(s) ? In a way that’s what Unions attempt to do but not on a scale that I’m referring to .

    Furthermore , using the Mahatma Gandhi example , once he managed to “free” his people , they turned on each other and turned on him and it cost him his life . In that regard , he failed . Controlling a crowd is no easy feat . It takes enormous skill otherwise as we have seen many times in the past , it tends to turn to chaos .

    In regards to all the “movement” leaders that I have observed in the past , not one managed to create a “movement” that didn’t put their followers in harms way , not one ! People need to be extremely vigilant ,we are extremely vulnerable to manipulation through our senses . It is through our emotions that “they” manage to gain control over us . A true leader(s) would show his followers how to remain in control and act rationally rather than emotionally , and certainly not position the movement in vulnerable situations where they can be overtaken .

    Just as technology has progressed and “changed” , so should our ways for obtaining change .

    In my humble opinion ………..

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