Denver, Colo. (November 19, 2002) – Thirty employees of the Seattle-based Stevedoring Services of America (SSA) today requested an injunction to block the imminent and unlawful elimination of their jobs simply because they have not opted for union representation. Solidifying union control over vital jobs currently performed by non-union employees has emerged as a top bargaining priority for the union hierarchy, whose actions sparked a $2-billion-a-day shutdown of West Coast ports last month.
With the help of attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the workers filed charges at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) for demanding that SSA take jobs away from its happily non-union employees at a Salt Lake City facility.
SSA is the largest company at the West Coast ports. The employees are responsible for tactical management of day-to-day activities and perform computerized planning work over the company’s rail, yard, and vessel functions.
By insisting that this planning work instead be performed at new facilities at the ports staffed by unionized “marine clerks” rather than non-union employees, ILWU and PMA officials are in violation of the employees’ right to refrain from unionization under federal law and Utah’s Right to Work Law. In the past, the NLRB has prosecuted this type of illegal discrimination – known as a “runaway shop.”
“The union’s illegal demands further reveal that the shutdown of West Coast ports was a naked attempt by union officials to exploit an economic crisis to expand their coercive power,” said Stefan Gleason, Vice President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “It’s deplorable that ILWU officials would take action to cripple America’s struggling economy for the selfish purpose of further solidifying union control of the ports.”
In the charges, the employees ask the NLRB’s General Counsel immediately to seek a federal court injunction that would bar PMA, ILWU, and SSA from eliminating the Utah jobs and moving the jobs to the ports. Other employers within the PMA have already been pressured to agree to hand over their planning workers to the union. Without immediate NLRB intervention, SSA and its employees will also be forced to accede to the demands of the PMA and ILWU upon ratification of the new agreement.
Before the 10-day lockout in October, the ILWU hierarchy employed a variety of work slowdown tactics. These included deliberately understaffing key operations and sending workers to jobs for which they were not qualified, which made it impossible for the ports to function.
Union officials have a long history of using economic and wartime crises to seek more coercive power. During the Second World War, for example, Big Labor waged 13,000 strikes and work stoppages, often called for the single purpose of forcibly unionizing employees. In the most notorious of these strikes, union officials were able to shut down vital iron mines and ultimately persuaded the federal government to mandate that all mining employees join the union as a condition of employment.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in more than 250 cases nationwide per year.