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ICTSI wins US$93.6 million from ILWU dockers for unlawful practices

UNLAWFUL labour practices by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) was the substantial cause of the Port of Portland, Oregon, losing its container handling business, a federal court has ruled

10 November 2019 - 19:00

UNLAWFUL labour practices by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) was the substantial cause of the Port of Portland, Oregon, losing its container handling business, a federal court has ruled.

But after making a US$93.6 million damage judgment against the union, the court agreed to defer payment after ILWU lawyers argued that normal timely payment could bankrupt the union.



The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, backed by a jury, upheld a 2017 ruling of the National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) that said the ILWU's Local 8 'engaged in unfair labour practices affecting commerce'.



The court agreed with the NLRB's decision that the union caused US$93.6 million in damage to a Portland, Oregon terminal operator, Manila's International Container Terminal Services Inc (ICTSI), which pulled out of its contract with the port.



The NLRB previously determined that the ILWU had organised slowdowns at ICTSI's Portland terminal in order to force the Port of Portland to give longshoremen the work of plugging and unplugging reefers - a task normally assigned to the port's electricians, members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).



'By inducing longshoremen employed by at the Port of Portland to operate cranes and drive trucks in a slow, nonproductive manner, refuse to hoist cranes in bypass mode, and refuse to move two containers or require ICTSI and carriers who call at Terminal 6 to cease doing business with the port, the ILWU engaged in unfair labour practices affecting commerce,' NLRB found in 2015.



In its civil suit, ICTSI alleged that these slowdowns led to the loss of contracts with Hapag Lloyd America and Hanjin Shipping, which accounted for 98 per cent of its business. After a brief period of deliberation on Monday, the federal jury agreed.



ILWU contests the jury's finding, and it intends to request a new trial or to ask the judge to lower the amount of the award. 'Entry of judgment on the verdict will impose a heavy financial burden with serious collateral consequences, including bankruptcy,' ILWU's counsel wrote, asking the court for a delay.



ILWU lawyers argued that the damages were excessive. They further contend that the award isn't supported by the evidence presented in court and indicated they willl seek a new trial.


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