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Cargo Moves Again After Accord Ends Port Strike

July 08, 1986|TIM WATERS | Times Staff Writer

Cargo operations at Los Angeles and Long Beach harbors returned to normal Monday after striking office workers reached agreement with 10 shipping and stevedoring companies over job security issues.

The office workers, members of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union Local 63, withdrew their pickets at 1 a.m., ending a six-day strike that was supported by more than 4,000 dockworkers.

The work stoppage was the most extensive by local longshoremen in 15 years, union and employer officials said.

Officials at both ports said shipping operations, which had been severely hampered by the strike, resumed without delay after the tentative agreement was reached. And on Monday night, union members voted 140-3 to ratify the pact.

Terry Lane, regional manager for the Pacific Maritime Assn., an employers' group, said many shippers experienced "substantial" delays as a result of the strike, and some vessels were apparently diverted to other ports. Lane said he did not know how many ships may have gone elsewhere.

He said the strike was the longest since 1971, when longshoremen walked off their jobs at all terminals for 134 days.

Busy at 21 Sites

By mid-morning Monday, 21 cargo vessels at both ports were being loaded or unloaded by longshoremen, the officials said.

"Business is just booming," said Julia Nagano, a Port of Los Angeles spokeswoman. "Everything is back to normal."

About 240 office workers, who perform jobs ranging from bookkeeping to operating switchboards and are paid an average of $14 an hour, walked off their jobs when their contract expired last Tuesday and they failed to reach agreement with employers over job security issues.

In recent months, union officials asserted, about 60 office workers have lost their jobs, some as a result of employers transfering work away from the waterfront and out of the union's jurisdiction. Other jobs have been filled by supervisory personnel, they said.

Under terms of the new three-year contract, employers agree not to transfer jobs out of the union's jurisdiction and give them to non-union employees, union official Jerry Rich said.

Additionally, the employers agreed not to "siphon" new clerical jobs off to management or lay off union workers unless a company has lost business.

"Basically, that was all we were asking for," Rich said. "We wanted to keep our work and keep it here at the facilities where we already are."

He said the contract would affect 300 office workers at 10 companies. Before Monday, at least two of the companies had agreed to go along with whatever agreement was eventually reached and picketing at their terminals was stopped.

Center of Dispute

Howard Hay, an attorney who represented employers in negotiations, did not return a reporter's telephone calls on Monday. But a shipping industry source confirmed that employers had agreed not to transfer jobs out of the union's jurisdiction.

"The crux of this whole issue has been to allow employers to continue to innovate and this agreement would not impair the employers' ability to do just that," the source said.

Although the strike is expected to have an impact on the ports' revenues, shippers and stevedoring companies, many of whom have long-term leases with the ports, could sustain the heaviest losses.

Meanwhile, negotiations continued Monday between employers and 240 striking machinists at the ports. The machinists walked out Thursday in a dispute over wages. That strike, however, has had little effect on shipping operations since an arbitrator ruled that longshoremen could not legally honor the machinists' picket lines.

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