Automation could lead to ILWU to renege on employer deal
A DANGEROUS encounter between US west coast dockers and management is approaching with the expiration of the current contract a year away, reports IHS Media
07 June 2021 - 19:00
Dockers oppose plans to automate TTI (Total Terminals International), the largest terminal in Port of Long Beach, 80 per cent owned by Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC).
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) must face their 2008 agreement that the owners have the contractual right to automate cargo handling at their facilities.
When the ILWU signed away management rights to automate, they did so in return for lifetime incomes for those made redundant.
Many close to west coast labour relations the union may seek to nullify automation rights through go-slows and other disruptive tactics.
Another unpredictable element is recent changes at ocean carriers, who comprise eight of 11 seats on the board of the Pacific Maritime Association, which negotiates with the ILWU.
Not only have carriers consolidated in recent years, they experienced the power of concerted action when they withdrew capacity en masse following the lockdown in March of 2020.
Having seen their profits soar during the Covid crisis, the carriers may face a union more emboldened and seek a peaceful, albeit, a costly settlement.
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