IAM, SSA,Double Dealing In Maritime And AMFA-
The Heart Of The Matter
Date: Mon, 6 Feb 2006
IN 2001, STEVEDORING SERVICES of America (SSA) lost an arbitration to the ILWU. The issue was whether or not SSA violated the longshore agreement by assigning longshore jobs to an IAM workforce.
SSA appealed the decision to the Joint Coast Labor Relations Committee. (JCLRC) The JCLRC is a union-employer labor relations committee that oversees and administers the ILWU-PMA (Pacific Maritime Association) coastwise contract. At the Coast level the employers decided against placing the issue before the Coast Arbitrator. They figured they had a loser and did not want the Coast Arbitrator to confirm the findings of the Area Arbitrator.
Instead, they had another trick up their sleeve.
SSA opted to go outside the contract. The company petitioned the NLRB for "relief". The IAM collaborated in SSA's devious scheme. SSA should have followed contract grievance procedure.
The IAM should have chosen to have the issue heard by an AFL-CIO Impartial Umpire under *Article XX of the Federation's Constitution. That way, the IAM would have kept the dispute within the house of labor. The IAM, however, decided to jump in bed with SSA and both of them ran cheek to cheek to the NLRB. This is five years after SSA lost the arbitration!
The issue is now pending at NLRB headquarters in Washington, D.C.
In nearly every such case the NLRB hears, the Board awards the work to the union that the employer chooses. SSA chose the IAM. Never mind what the longshore contract says! It is just another example of the double-dealing both SSA and PMA will resort to tying to circumvent the contract. What is particularly galling is that during the hearing, Don Hursey, the union representative of the IAM, was seen passing notes to SSA's attorney while that attorney was cross-examining an ILWU witness. Such action by Hursey is a sickening display of collaboration .
Time and again SSA has been found guilty of reneging on the longshore contract . Time and again the IAM has sought ILWU work. The IAM is conspiring with SSA in an attempt to gain control of two (2) ILWU jobs, but rolled over at Alaska Airlines and allowed that company to steal over 450 IAM jobs and give them to a foreign company employing non-union workers. That, brothers and sisters, is company-unionism.
Think about that the next time you are on SSA's payroll. Think about that the next time the IAM comes calling for help.
Although the IAM will not admit it, 100% of their power, when negotiating contracts for mechanics on the waterfront, comes from the ILWU. The IAM knows that the ILWU will honor picket lines. The IAM knows that a shipping company can be closed down by an IAM strike because the ILWU honors picket lines. The IAM, on the other hand, picks and chooses what picket lines it honors. Ask the AMFA (Aircraft Mechanics Fraternal Association). When the AMFA hit the bricks against union-busting Northwest Airlines, the IAM couldn't wait to cross the lines and steal AMFA jobs. The IAM's alibi was that several years earlier the AMFA had stolen IAM workers and jurisdiction, and this was just tit-for-tat. While it is true that former IAM workers went to the AMFA, it is also true that they voted to do it. They were not at all satisfied with IAM representation. They voted to do it! They didn't slink behind an IAM picket line and hold sneak-meetings with employers like the IAM did. The AMFA's actions were out in the open. And the AMFA's actions would never have been successful if the then IAM workforce had been happy with its parent union.
In the article that accompanies this post, please take particular note of the part that reads "Therešs more. When NWA compelled unions to accept concessions in exchange for common stock in 1993, they offered a seat on the board of directors to a representative from each union. Once the ink was dry on the deal, they insisted that these individual directors had a fiduciary responsibility to the company and could not share inside information with the unions and workers whose interests they were supposed to represent".
Can you believe that? Northwest Airlines "insisted" that the rank and file be kept in the dark, and union "leadership" agreed! It is unbelievable!
And that, brothers and sisters goes to the very heart of the matter. That is one of the things that separates labor leaders from labor "statesmen". The former believes in membership control, and the latter believes in top-down governance so the status quo of the statesmen can be maintained, even , as it turns out, at the expense of the very workers the statesman purport to represent.
Brother Bridges, on more than one occasion, took the heads of several unions to task for pulling down huge salaries and "perks". Harry argued that union officials should not make much more than the rank and file they represented. He correctly argued that highly compensated officials would be tempted to sacrifice the well-being of the membership in order to maintain their own lofty positions of comfort and power. Harry was a prophet. It is happening now. And the IAM's collaboration with SSA, with Northwest, with United, etc. is a glaring example of top-down leadership that places more worth in preserving its own high-and-mighty expensive lifestyle than it does looking out for the rank and file, or promoting labor unity.
Remember, it was the IAM that in 2002 led the anti-ILWU charge at the California State Federation of Labor Convention in San Francisco. That happened while the ILWU was locked in a contentious eight month negotiating battle with PMA. IAM "leadership"? Hardly. Call them what they are: collaborators. I hope the membership of top-down unions will soon see the handwriting on the wall. If they don't, they will discover they are considered dispensable by the boss...and by their fat-cat labor statesmen.