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Pickets at Harbor Protest Kaiser Firings

April 02, 1985|HENRY WEINSTEIN | Times Labor Writer

About 200 members of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union picketed Kaiser International Corp. on Monday at the Los Angeles Harbor in San Pedro, protesting firings of up to 75 veteran workers and what they call a bid to establish a non-union beachhead at the harbor.

David Arian, president of ILWU Local 13, said the union would move to shut down the harbor if the dispute is not resolved by Thursday.

He accused the company of violating its labor contract and a May, 1983, pledge it made to the Harbor Department to honor the union's jurisdiction.

"This is the first attempt by any company to operate without ILWU people here in 51 years and it will not be done," Arian said. "The union will do anything it can to stop the use of non-union labor here."

Kaiser Spokesman

Joseph Clark, public relations director for Kaiser Steel Corp., Kaiser International's parent company, said, "We are in discussions with the union at this point and we hope they will be amicably resolved soon."

Arian said at a Monday night fund-raiser held for Mayor Tom Bradley at the union hall in Wilmington that the company and the union had just opened negotiations. Arian said the two sides were close to an agreement and he hoped one could be reached today. He added that he thought Kaiser was "reconsidering" the firings.

The dispute started at 6 p.m. Friday, when Kaiser International's general manager, Dick Holdaway, "locked us out and fired the people working there," Arian said.

"He's trying to go non-union. He's using supervisory and other personnel."

Arian said that Kaiser International regularly employed at least 25 people running large cranes and other heavy equipment at its coal-loading facility. But he said there were sometimes as many as 75 people working at the facility. Arian said most of the people affected were veteran workers, earning about $30,000 a year.

Kaiser started operating at Berth 49 of the harbor in January, 1984. Many of the workers at the site had previously been employed by National Metals and Steel Corp. since 1965. Glenn Hughes, a Harbor Department spokesman, said Holdaway had told department officials that he would honor the union contract when Kaiser applied for its harbor lease at a May, 1983, hearing.

Change in Pact Sought

However, Kaiser officials have been attempting to get the union to change its contract for several months, according to Arian. He said the company was attempting to get out of the master labor agreement at the harbor, which runs until July, 1987. Arian said the last negotiating session was held two weeks ago but said the company had not indicated then that talks had concluded. He said Friday's lockout had come as a surprise.

Arian said, "Holdaway's trying to bring the mentality of the steel industry down to the waterfront. He's going after manning, hours, benefits, work rules, the whole ball of wax."

No Kaiser official would comment on the details of the dispute.

Mayor Kept Informed

"There is no other employer in the harbor that would challenge the union this way," Arian said. "This harbor works smoothly and efficiently. Holdaway is going to disrupt that."

Mayor Tom Bradley's press secretary, Ali Webb, said the mayor was being kept abreast of negotiations to resolve the conflict but is not directly involved. She said Harbor Department officials were involved in attempting to resolve the situation.

A spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department said that one picket had been arrested and charged with inciting a riot Monday morning, but that picketing had been peaceful the rest of the day.

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