Los Angeles Business Journal

Clerks Ratify L.A. Port Contract

By RYAN FAUGHNDER Thursday, February 21, 2013

The small clerical worker union that last year shut down L.A. port terminals for eight days has ratified a contract agreement with employers at the port, quelling worries about the possibility of another strike.

Negotiators for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 Office Clerical Unit and employers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach said Wednesday night that union bargaining units voted and agreed to ratify terms agreed to on Dec. 4.

This reverses the clerks’ stance of earlier this month when the union voted down the agreement. The rejection raised the possibility of another crippling strike. The agreement between the roughly 600 employees and 14 employers will run through June 30, 2016.

The announcement did not address why the clerks changed their position. Calls to the union and the Port of Los Angeles were not immediately returned.

“The approved agreements, to be finalized in coming days, are good for workers, good for employers and – most of all – important in ensuring smooth operations at our Southern California ports,” the negotiators said in a joint statement. “Our local, regional and national economies depend on these ports, and the agreements ratified tonight pave the way for continued growth in the years ahead.”

The Dec. 4 agreement includes guaranteed job security and a significant raise for clerks while allowing employers to reduce clerical staff through attrition. The agreement was reached after the clerks union went on strike and longshoremen honored the picket, shutting down 10 out of 14 cargo terminals. Industry groups representing retailers and other companies that rely on the ports’ imports and exports had taken the unusual step of calling on federal mediators to broker a deal.

The National Retail Federation hailed Wednesday night’s vote as a resolution to the ongoing tensions at the ports.