It is no secret that the ILWU, specifically Big Bob, wanted to get rid of Arbitrator David Miller.
What is secret is why Big Bob wanted to get rid of the Unions choice, ILWU Local 63 member David Miller, who has been the Southern California Area Arbitrator since 2002.
Big Bob, in a letter to all Longshore Division Locals and Pensioners dated February 11, 2015, accused without naming, David Miller, of having “openly engaged in conduct that clearly compromises their impartiality, including the development of close and personal relationships that affect decision-making and the failure to disclose these particular relationships and conflicts of interest”. McEllrath Letter 2-11-15
Big Bob does not identify specifically what conduct he his alleging compromised David’s impartiality.
Big Bob also fails to identify which “close and personal relationships” he is concerned about, or which of Miller’s Decisions were “affected”.
Big Bob wraps up his letter with a false claim; “Both parties have recognized at the bargaining table that there is a problem, but, since the bias favors the employers, PMA is refusing to take corrective action.”
Bob’s claim is a flat out lie. The only one at the bargaining table that had a problem was Big Bob.
Big Bob forced the PMA to agree to throw out an arbitration system that has been in place since 1934, without ever filing any complaints related to any inappropriate behavior or any biased Decisions, because he wanted to have his own member David Miller removed. 1934 Arbitration Decision
Bob agreed to replace the current 4 (2-PMA 2-ILW) Arbitrators with 4 panels of 3 Arbitrators (1-ILWU 1-PMA 1-Neutral Professional), so now 12 Arbitrators will do the work of resolving PCLCD disputes, adding 1-2 million dollars per year to the cost of Arbitration which is split on a 50/50 basis.
Under the “new” system, on-the-job disputes like safety, picket lines, and claims of onerousness or speedup, will be heard by either the ILWU or PMA Arbitrator based on the flip of a coin.
All other disputes will be heard by the panel of 3 Arbitrators; 1-ILWU. 1-PMA, and 1 neutral professional.
Which means all the important decisions involving discipline, and all other disagreements, will be decided by a neutral professional lawyer or retired Judge. The ILWU pick and the PMA pick will cancel each other, so all the decisions will get made by a lawyer or retired Judge who knows nothing about the Longshore Industry.
How is that better for the ILWU or the PMA?
Big Bob refused to drop his demand to have David Miller removed, and under pressure from the Secretary of Labor, PMA offered the Union a deal they thought the Union would reject, only they accepted and now both parties are saddled with a whole new Arbitration procedure.
The “new” procedure will be 3 times more expensive and, more importantly, the Union will lose all the benefits associated with having Union members decide longshore issues related to discipline and manning, and everything else referred to the “new” Arbitrator panel’s lawyer or retired Judge. You can forget about all the past practices arguments, they will be gone.
What were you thinking, Big Bob?