Former tugboat operators picketed in Long Beach Harbor this week to protest the loss of their jobs ferrying personnel and equipment between the harbor and the city's attractively disguised offshore oil islands.
The layoffs of 22 of the operators, effective last Saturday, occurred after THUMS--the consortium of oil companies controlling the islands--awarded a new contract for marine services to a company whose employees are represented by a union other than the Inland Boatman's Union, which represents the laid-off workers.
Some of the men had been at their jobs for 20 years. Although the contract had changed hands before, the companies had always retained the services of the same tugboat operators.
Officials of Reidel International, however, which recently succeeded Pacific Towboat and Salvage as the new contract holder, said they would use workers represented by a San Francisco-based union called Master Mates and Pilots rather than those represented by the Wilmington-based boatmen's union, which has supplied THUMS tugboat operators since the islands were built in the mid-1960s.
A spokesman for the Inland Boatmen's Union said the union would file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board charging that the dismissals are improper.
The THUMS consortium includes Texaco, Humble, Union, Mobil and Shell Oil Cos.