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AFL-CIO Now

California Office Workers Stand in Support of America's Jobs

Office clerical workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, members of International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 63, are striking in order to protect America's jobs that pay well and help drive the economy. Employers walked out of negotiations Saturday, prompting International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) Acting General Secretary Stephen Cotton to condemn the international carriers and terminal operators.

The ILWU wants to bargain for an agreement to reopen the ports and end the strike but apparently the employers are not committed to doing what it takes to achieve a resolution. The ITF strongly condemns such unprofessional conduct, which harms the port and its working communities. We support the ILWU and are following up this dispute at every level.

Following high-level meetings last week, seafarers’ and dockers’ leaders are already acutely aware of this dispute, and of the negative impact of outsourcing for decent work throughout the industry ­ they have resolved to show solidarity.

Hundreds of clerical workers have been without a contract for more than two years and many face having their jobs outsourced by companies like Maersk. The clerical employees went on strike Thursday and dock workers have refused to cross the picket line. Edward Wytkind, president of the AFL-CIO Transportation Trades Department, also criticized the employers.

These workers have gone 30 months without a contract and are drawing a line against the steady and irresponsible outsourcing of their jobs to the lowest bidder. Too many transportation workers have seen their jobs disappear in an epidemic of outsourcing and cost-cutting that has weakened our economy and the middle class. We must not let that happen here.
Instead of negotiating in good faith, industry representatives have asked the federal government to intervene in this legal strike. These efforts must be soundly rejected. Instead, management officials must negotiate a fair and balanced contract that will preserve these jobs now for future workers. Until that happens, we will stand solidly behind the working men and women of ILWU Local 63 who walk a picket line in the name of economic justice.

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