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Negotiations for union workers and employers in arbitration

I would like us to discuss a current events case that encompasses much of what you have learned and discussed over the course of the semester.

Situation: Currently the U. S. West Coast ports are backed up with cargo ships that are just sitting in the harbor unable to dock and unload. Much of the cargo is seasonal in nature and will be of no use if not moved immediately.

Management claims the longshoremen are deliberately in a "slowdown" to apply pressure for their new contract (their current contract expired in July 2014). The longshoremen deny the slowdown claim and negotiations have been suspended.

Discussion: If we were the mediator or arbitrator in this case, based on the facts of the case what strategy or strategies would we use to resolve this problem?

Remember: For the sake of this discussion, you can approach it from either 1) you were involved from the very beginning of the 2014 negotiations or 2) you are brought in now to break the stalemate and restart negotiations (even though in real life that has not yet happened). What could or would you have done differently?

Resources: Below is a link to the story I am referring to which includes a copy of the 2008 and 2014 contract negotiations, a guide to the ILWU Negotiation Talking Points and details of the situation. Be sure to look at other articles as well concerning this matter when formulating your strategy.

Copy and paste: http://www.joc.com/port-news/longshoreman-labor/international-longshore-and-warehouse-union/us-west-coast-labor-negotiations-frequently-asked-questions

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Solution Preview

The real issues for West Coast longshoremen and the ILWU, are concerns over monetary compensation, with additional concerns of who will pay taxes on insurance premiums and the resistance to the adoption of technology for unloading/loading and tracking shipments coming in to the many ports (JOC, 2014). Longshoremen on the West Coast are among some of the highest paid blue collar workers in the U.S. However, if the ILWU becomes linked to a larger umbrella union, the high wages could be in jeopardy. The issues of implementing automated technologies are not clearly stated. However, the underlying assumptions are that at least some union jobs may be eliminated, particularly with the adoption of automated equipment used for loading and unloading.

The aim of the arbitrator is to find a solution agreeable to both sides. This is no small task, considering the salaries at risk and the potential for jobs to be eliminated. However, employers may see the value of greater ...

Solution Summary

The discussion focuses on approaches that may be used by an arbitrator to encourage solutions agreeable to both sides.