The ICTSI Oregon terminal in Portland, Ore., on Tuesday closed after dockworkers represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) honored a picket line thrown up by longshoremen from Honduras who said they were locked out of a terminal in Puerto Cortés also operated by the Philippines-based International Container Terminal Services Inc.
The ILWU said Central American port workers from the labor union Sindicato Gremial de Trabajadores del Muelle (SGTM) from Puerto Cortés in Honduras established a picket line in front of ICTSI's Oregon's operation at Terminal 6 in Portland.
"SGTM workers held picket signs that read, 'S.G.T.M. LOCKED OUT ICTSI,' and stated that they are facing murder, military repression, death threats and anti-union attacks. ILWU workers honored the picket line in accordance with their collective bargaining agreement," the ILWU said in a press release.
A spokesman at ICTSI's office in the Philippines had no immediate comment on the union's press release or allegations about the Honduras terminal on the ILWU website.
However, a spokesman for the Port of Portland said an arbitrator for the Pacific Maritime Association ruled later in the day that the picket line was not bona fide, and labor was ordered to return to work without pay for the time of the walkout. He said gate operations would resume at 8 a.m. Wednesday.
reported that a new longshore crew reported to work Tuesday even as the arbitrator was making a ruling.
ICTSI signed a lease to operate Terminal 6 in Portland in 2010. It was involved in an intense dispute with the ILWU over whether the work connecting and disconnecting reefer containers was under the jurisdiction of the ILWU or another union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, a dispute that was not resolved until last December, when Gov. John Kitzhaber brokered an agreement to give the jobs to the ILWU.
ICTSI won a concession to operate the terminal in Puerto Cortés last year for 29 years.
In its press release, the ILWU said ICTSI established a local company, Operadora Portuaria Centroamericana (OPC), which "imposed a sham labor agreement that was approved by the Honduran government and ICTSI but never voted on or approved by a majority of port workers."
The ILWU said a mass firing of union supporters in the port sparked a protest on Feb. 26.
"The Honduran military responded to the protest by invading the port and arresting approximately 129 workers, who were charged with 'terrorism' and 'damaging the national economy.' One union leader has had to flee the country after his family members were attacked, killing one and injuring others," the ILWU press release said.
Elvis Ganda, chief executive officer of ICTSI Oregon, Inc., said in a statement, "The ILWU's actions yesterday appear to demonstrate its continued intent to drive Hanjin out of Portland and to close Terminal 6. The ILWU knows full well that Hanjin is currently making its decision about the continuation of its call on Oregon's only container terminal and that Hanjin is greatly concerned about the performance and productivity of the ILWU workforce and labor stability.
"Despite being aware of these facts, the ILWU selected this time to engage in a work stoppage under the guise of publicizing an alleged labor dispute between a group of individuals in Honduras and a subsidiary of ICTSI Oregon Inc.'s parent company, which recently took over operation of a terminal in that country. In connection with this effort, the ILWU has issued a press release which contains multiple inaccurate statements about this alleged foreign dispute."
Ganda continued, "Without detailing those inaccuracies now, suffice it to say that any issues at other terminals operated by companies that may be affiliated with ICTSI Oregon, Inc.'s parent company have no connection or relation to ICTSI Oregon, Inc.'s operations locally. However, when the ILWU seeks to shut down Terminal 6 over an alleged dispute taking place thousands of miles away, it causes severe disruptions which hurt carriers, local truckers, shippers and members of the local community, companies and individuals that have no involvement with the issue being raised. The ILWU's current action, like many of its actions over the last 21 months at Terminal 6, is damaging to the reputation of Terminal 6 and the local and regional economy."