Monday, October 12, 2009

Canadian competition and other worries spurs California dock workers on to more cooperation

The prospect of losing even more market share to the Ports of Prince Rupert and Vancouver and the threat of a rejuvenated Panama Canal is making California workers with the ILWU a tad more cooperative it seems with California port officials.

The Journal of Commerce on line, is reporting in its most recent web update that the ILWU's California office is working with employers, ports and inland carriers to promote their coast as the logical gateway for U.S. trade with Asia.

This comes after California locals reported a 20 percent drop in man hours this past year, with the union expressing its concern over the growing rate of diverted cargo now going to Canada and Eastern US and Gulf ports.

It's a situation that could get worse for the California ports in the next few years, with both expansion plans in place for the Ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert (not to mention a huge development on the drawing board for Northern Mexico) as well as the widening of the Panama Canal which could see Asian trade going through the locks and on to Eastern Seaboard ports of call.

With all of that on their plate, the ILWU is pledging better cooperation, an acceptance of some automation and to better improve its image, hoping to change the dynamic of being perceived as a militant Union to one that is more progressive.

If they are successful in turning around some of that 20 per cent drop in working hours for its membership, it will be interesting to see where that number is taken from and what other ports on the West coast may suffer from the new image of the California workforce.

You can read the full article from the Journal of Commerce here-- Longshore Workers Tout Cooperation with Employers

No comments: