My first exposure to the waterfront and longshore labor relations was in 1978.
From 1978 to 1980 I worked on the Weyerhaeuser log dock in the Port of Tacoma, where I learned first hand how longshoremen work.
In 1980, I moved to San Francisco to earn my MBA and in 1981 I was hired by PMA as a Labor Relations Assistant in San Francisco. I was able to sit in on the 1981-1984 Pacific Coast Longshore Contract Document negotiations as well as the 1981-1984 Pacific Coast Walking Bosses & Foremen’s Agreement negotiations, where I was the note taker for PMA.
In 1983, I ended up back in Tacoma. In 1988, I was promoted to PMA’s Assistant Area Manager, where I was responsible for administration of ILWU/PMA labor agreements covering 11 ILWU Locals in the Pacific Northwest including Seattle, Tacoma, and Clerk Labor Relations Committees, as well as the Walking Boss Labor Relations Committee.
I have been dealing with longshore union officials for 36 years. In 1988, a young woman whose stepfather was an A-man who had recently died of a heart attack called me, because when she asked Local 23 officials about the permissive rule, as she wanted to take his book, they told her the rule only applied to the sons of longshoremen. I told Linda that the rule also applied to daughters, had her send her paperwork to me, and she was registered within the month.
Years later, after I left PMA, she called me and asked for some help with an equal pay claim. She was working as a steady clerk and the men she was working with, doing the exact same work, were getting 1 hour more each day.
With my help, she filed a discrimination claim for back pay, which was denied by the JPLRC, but eventually she was able to use the record that we created to get her back pay.
Around the same time a longtime A-man friend called, a friend I met when I was working on the dock at Weyerhaeuser, and asked me to help him and a few of his friends because they were being denied transfers to clerk and foreman registration.
With my help, he filed a discrimination claim that went all the way to the Coast Arbitrator, Sam Kagel. The claim was denied, but he and his friends used the records to file a class action lawsuit to get their transfers to Clerk and Foreman.
My work for the past 26 years has involved grievances related to health and safety or discrimination, and in every case the longshoremen called me for help after their union officials refused to help.
After I left PMA, I represented individuals at dozens of discrimination hearings under the ILWU/PMA grievance procedure, until they changed the procedure. Around 1998, a friend of mine who was Local 19 President called me for some help with a jurisdictional claim related to containers being lined, on the dock, by non-longshore carpenters. I helped him win his first jurisdictional claim.
Later, while he was working as a lineman, he called again and asked for help with a health and safety issue regarding covering the open trenches used to house the crane’s electrical cables. I helped him win the health and safety arbitration and then I helped him win the jurisdictional claim related to placing and removing the covers.
In 2007, while representing a couple of B-men, I filed a complaint that resulted in the NLRB signing a settlement agreement with the ILWU involving coastwise unlawful overcharging of nonmember class B registered longshoremen.
As a result, 4.900 B registered longshoremen, in Washington, Oregon, and California had their pro rata reduced, and over 90% collected their share of a 1.97 million dollar refund. Local 13 now has a new procedure for charging nonmember B-men.
Recently, I settled charges with the International Officers and PMA related to the exclusivity of the PCLCD related to grievances and filing NLRB charges. I just finished a trial with Local 23 related to their violation of a Settlement Agreement related to providing JPLRC Minutes to workers.
In response to the question of where I find so much time to file NLRB charges, my 27-year-old son is severely disabled and requires 24/7, line-of-sight care, which is my privilege to provide. As a result, I have a lot of time on my hands to help my friends.
My name is Jim Tessier and I am a longshore labor relations consultant, and this is my newsletter.
If you have any further questions feel free contact me at [email protected].