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Dispute Between Longshoremen Union And International Grain Companies Escalates; Union Workers Talk Of Possible Lockout


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Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A. is comprised of attorneys that are nationally-recognized industry leaders in the field of maritime and admiralty law. Our team of lawyers has over a century of combined experience, has successfully handled over 3,000 cases, and has recovered over 300 million dollars in damages for our clients.

Although it seemed as though a solution was in the works for the longstanding dispute between multinational grain companies and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), shipping companies in Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver, Washington, and Portland are still being affected due to a new dispute between dock workers and employers in the grain export business that might result in a longshoreman union lockout.
Disputes between the longshoremen union and shipping companies have been happening since August of last year, and despite companies trying to negotiate, thousands of union members in the Pacific NorthWest have voted against a deal that was drawn up last December, which lead to deadlock. Now, a statement from the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF), has further shown that the negotiations are far from over.

ILWU members are currently working under what they call ‘an imposed contract’ and argue that the global grain companies are diminishing an 80-year-old collective bargaining agreement they have had with the union since 1934, and instead, are adopting a non-concessionary stance.

The ITF claims they are receiving support from other union members, including the captain and crew of the Ramada Queen, which allegedly stated they were aware of the dispute and sided with the ILWU on behalf of their own union, the Japanese Seamen’s Union (JSU).

Jeff Engels, the ITF US West Coast coordinator, elaborated on the matter:

“The captain and seafarers had learned of the ILWU’s struggle weeks ago, while they were still docked in Asian ports. As union members themselves, who are among 4.5 million workers united as affiliates of the ITF, they knew the players involved as well as the high stakes for workers. The crew reiterated that they stand one hundred percent in solidarity with their brothers and sisters in the ILWU.”

Engels went on to say that the ITF and other seafarers from around the world are “eager to have the opportunity to support the ILWU in their campaign to secure a good contract with the global grain merchants.”

The solidarity clause in question forbids those involved to take on work which has been suspended during the dispute involving an ITF-affiliated dock workers’ union if it might affect the resolution of the dispute. Additionally, the agreement states that if the staff of the shipping companies involved in the dispute should follow in the footsteps of other union workers, their actions will not be considered as a breach of contract nor will ‘punitive action’ be taken against them.

Longshoremen are types of workers who are employed in a port and charged with loading and unloading ships. This line of work can be extremely dangerous, which, no wonder, is why the union workers are fighting to protect their rights.

Any longshoreman or crewmember aboard a cruise ship, cargo vessel or any other maritime worker has certain rights that must be upheld. When these types of workers are involved in an accident at work, are the targets of a crime, have their benefits infringed upon, or are victims of some other form of wrongdoing by their employers or other crewmembers, they have a right to seek help with a crewmember claims attorney, such as the experienced lawyers at our firm, Lipcon, Margulies & Winkleman, P.A.

Our firm fights to protect all crewmember and longshoremen’s rights and work diligently to help victims obtain justice for the wrongs that have been committed. If you or someone you know was involved in any sort of maritime incident, contact our crew claims attorneys today to schedule a consultation and discuss your options in filing a case.

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