A resolution adopted by the Oregon AFL-CIO Executive Board condemning Operating Engineers Local 701 in a work dispute with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) at the Port of Longview has been nullified by national AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
ILWU presented the resolution to the Oregon AFL-CIO Executive Board on July 29, claiming Local 701 was “aiding and abetting” an employer that the ILWU had a dispute with.
Longview-based ILWU Local 21 has been trying to secure an agreement with EGT Development to use longshore workers to operate a new $200 million grain export terminal under a “Working Agreement” the union has with the Port of Longview that covers the operation of ship and barge docks, the handling cargo, and facility operations.
EGT Development, a joint venture of Japan-based Itochu Corp, South Korea’s STX Pan Ocean and St. Louis-based Bunge North America, leased the property from the Port of Longview and argues that it is not obligated to use ILWU members. EGT has sued the Port in federal court to avoid hiring ILWU members.
Talks between EGT and ILWU broke off in January.
In July, EGT signed a five-year agreement with General Construction Co. of Federal Way, Washington, to run the terminal. Employees there are represented by members of Gladstone-based Operating Engineers Local 701.
The motion to adopt the resolution condemning Local 701 for taking the work was ruled out of order by Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain, who determined it was a dispute over jurisdiction. But the board overturned him and passed it by a wide margin.
Both ILWU and Operating Engineers #701 are affiliates of the AFL-CIO at the state and national levels.
In his ruling, Trumka said Chamberlain was correct to rule the resolution out of order. “The work at issue involves a jurisdictional dispute,” he wrote, pointing out that jurisdictional disputes are governed and settled by Article 20 of the AFL-CIO Constitution. “In view of these provisions, neither the Oregon AFL-CIO, nor any other AFL-CIO state, area, or local central body has authority to intervene or take sides.”
In conclusion, Trumka wrote: “Let me be clear that this letter concerns simply the issue of the authority of the state federation to take action relating to jurisdictional disputes. This should not be construed as a judgment on the merits of the dispute.”