ILWU clerks strike in LA

December 7, 2011

LOS ANGELES--International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 63(a) Office Clerks Union (OCU) staged a four-hour job action on December 2 that shut down three terminals--Evergreen, NYK and China Shipping--in Los Angeles Harbor.

Trucks were rerouted from those terminals all afternoon on the day of the strike. The 900 clerks, who maintain records, verify shipments, do customer service for shippers booking contracts, and work in administrative duties for shipping companies, have been working without a contract for 18 months.

The Los Angeles/Long Beach Employers Association is proposing to outsource many union jobs by allowing shippers to book directly via computer and move customer service overseas.

In July 2010, the clerks struck for 11 days and then went back to work as negotiations continued.

On the day of the December 2 strike, Southern California port arbitrator Dave Miller ruled that the strike was not "bona fide," and the employers invited the clerks back to work the following day. According to one ILWU Local 13 member, speaking anonymously, "Dave Miller is in the pocket of the bosses."

The ILWU appealed the decision, however, and may find out in the coming days that it can set up picket lines that dockworkers can honor.

Occupy activists who are building toward the December 12 coast-wide day of action at the ports showed up on a moment's notice to support the strike. Occupy Long Beach activists carried signs that said, "Working-class unity."

Leah Marinkovich, a striking clerk, told supporters, "What the Occupy movement has done is helping to put pressure on employers to negotiate union contracts in good faith. I certainly appreciate the Occupy activists who showed up to try to understand our concerns and support our effort."

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