Oregon Governor Kate Brown has appointed IBEW Local 48 business manager Gary Young to a seat on the nine-member Port of Portland Commission.
Young takes the spot that was held by former International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 8 president Bruce Holte, whose second four-year term expired August 1.
The Port Commission sets policy and oversees management of the Port of Portland. Port of Portland runs the Portland International Airport, four marine terminals, and several industrial parks. It’s a public agency supported by property taxes, and has a mission of regional economic development.
Young will be installed at the commission’s Oct. 14 meeting. He’ll serve alongside Oregon AFL-CIO president Tom Chamberlain on a body that is otherwise peopled by business representatives.
The Port of Portland is vitally important to organized labor, and not just to ILWU, which has about 500 members who load and unload ships. As a commercial property manager, the Port is a major employer of building trades union members. The Port is also landlord to numerous union manufacturing enterprises at the Swan Island Industrial Park, Rivergate Industrial District and other industrial properties. Hundreds of airline union members work at the airport. And 54 IBEW Local 48 members work year-round maintaining equipment at the airport and at marine terminals.
The Port has also been the site of several recent labor disputes. SEIU, UNITE HERE, and the Machinists union have waged organizing campaigns among airport workers. And SEIU and UNITE HERE have called on the Port Commission to raise workplace standards — though without nearly the success similar campaigns have had at other major West Coast airports.
Meanwhile, ILWU and the Port itself have been at odds over the union’s dispute with ICTSI — the company the Port contracted with to manage Terminal 6. ILWU is accused of orchestrating a workplace slow-down at Terminal 6. That contributed to shippers Hanjin and Hapag-Lloyd pulling out of the terminal, which ended nearly all container shipping in Portland. On Sept. 24, the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, DC, upheld a 2013 administrative law judge’s ruling that ILWU committed an unfair labor practice when it encouraged the slowdown and took other actions targeting ICTSI. ILWU is reportedly planning to appeal the decision in federal circuit court.
Despite those frictions, Holte says he was honored to be part of the Port Commission, one of the highlights of his life. He said he takes pride in Port accomplishments he was part of, including the building of a new Port of Portland headquarters, and installation of new baggage and deicing systems.