Friday, July 16, 1999

management OK
three-year pact

Settlement terms won't
be disclosed until union members
ratify the new contract

By Russ Lynch


West Coast dockworkers and the management of their shipping and terminal-operator employers have agreed to a three-year labor contract, ending slowdowns that have caused delays in some goods reaching Hawaii.

"We expect productivity to return to normal levels," said Branton B. "Bal" Dreyfus, vice president and Hawaii area manager of Matson Navigation Co.

Dreyfus said yesterday that ships had been delayed as long as six days by local disputes while the contract talks went on between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the management bargaining agency, the Pacific Maritime Association.

The West Coast settlement leaves a Hawaii waterfront labor contract still to be decided. Both contracts expired July 1. Usually, negotiators for the Hawaii contract between the ILWU and the Hawaii Employers Council wait until they see the terms of a West Coast settlement before they wrap up a separate arrangement.

"We continue to be in talks with the ILWU," Tim Ho, Hawaii Employers Council president, said today. "We're moving along in the negotiations." In the last round of negotiations, in 1996, the West Coast agreement was announced in July but the Hawaii parties did not reach agreement until the end of October.

Both sides have said there have been amicable negotiating sessions in Honolulu. Terms of the ILWU-PMA settlement on the West Coast were not disclosed and the parties said the details won't be made public until after the union members ratify the new contract.

While there was no strike after the last three-year contract expired, one ILWU local unit stopped work for two days last week, shutting down the Port of Oakland and delaying shipments to Hawaii. Matson and Sea-Land Service Inc., the two big mainland-Hawaii ocean cargo carriers, had to alter their schedules and shipments from Honolulu to the neighbor islands also were delayed.

The PMA announced the settlement late yesterday through its Web site, "This new contract ensures the PMA and the ILWU will work together to meet the needs of our customers," Joseph Miniace, president and chief executive officer of the San Francisco-based PMA, said in a statement posted on the Web site late yesterday.

He said issues for both sides were bargained for and "fair compromises" were reached.

"We are pleased that we could offer the ILWU membership generous increases in their pension and welfare benefits," he said.

The ILWU's chief negotiator, Vice President James Spinosa, issued a statement saying the union was pleased to have negotiated a contract that "rewards the hard work our membership puts forward every day at West Coast ports."

Sources said retirement benefits figured largely in the West Coast talks. Other contract issues included union demands for increased jurisdiction around the ports, including the right to operate equipment that hauls cargo from one dock area to another on roads outside the docks.

Management wanted the union to agree to new safety rules in which the ILWU will not stop an entire loading job, as it could under the old contract, while a safety concern of a small part of the work force is investigated.

With the workers already getting $99,000 and up in annual wages, pay was not as important as pensions in the money issues, sources said. At one point during the negotiations, an ILWU representative said the employers had offered pay raises totaling 5 percent over three years.

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