After driving out nearly all of the importing and exporting from the Port Of Portland because $35 an hour wasn’t a high enough wage, it’s now been revealed that ILWU employees collected $1.2 Million for doing nothing.
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The longshore union has reaped the benefits for decades of a port-supported fund that pays members whether or not they work. During a lockout at the Port of Portland’s grain terminal in 2013, the fund paid $1 million over the course of a year – while no work was going on at all.
Terminal 6, Portland’s container port and the former lifeblood of the state’s small and medium-sized exporting industry, now receives a single ship per month. Between April and July, the container terminal had no work at all.
Elvis Ganda, the head of terminal operator ICTSI Oregon, said the company hires for just 30 eight-hour shifts a month now – down from 500 jobs a week before February.
That means longshore workers are doing 1 percent of the work they were doing before.
But dock worker pay at the Port of Portland barely took a hit. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has a Pay Guarantee Plan that assures many longshore workers will be paid for nearly a full week of work at nearly four times minimum wage, regardless of how much work there is to do.
Usually, unions use members’ dues to create their own contingency funds for strikes and downtimes. The ILWU negotiated the pay guarantee fund into its contract with the port operators as early as 1971, according to previous reporting from The Oregonian/OregonLive.
There are three classes of longshore workers who can receive money from the pay guarantee plan. When 2015 started, the highest class, Class A, could earn up to 38 hours of pay at a rate of $35.68 per hour — $1,355.84 per week. Under a newly-struck contract, Class A workers are now eligible for 40 hours of pay, regardless of available shifts.
Class B workers with less experience can make up to $999.04 per week.
Many longshore workers make six-figure salaries with a busy port, so the current $70,000 yearly wage of the pay guarantee plan is a drastic cut. The decrease in pay is noticeable in the weekly reports the port releases — dropping sometimes $7,000 lower than 2014’s totals, according to analysis by The Oregonian/OregonLive.
The Longshoreman previously attacked media during a Longview, WA, lockout, then went on to fight with police while blocking the railroad tracks.