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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