A lone, longshore worker, Eric Aldape, lifelong dues paying member in good standing of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 13, opposed the Union and Pacific Maritime Association in Federal Court on Friday, August 30, 2019.
Aldape’s, lawyer argued that a provision of the collective bargaining agreement was an illegal sham which allowed the 89 member companies of PMA and the Union to avoid liability for violation of the civil rights of waterfront workers.
PMA and the Union argued that Section 13.2, bargained for and agreed upon by the Union and PMA for more than 15 years, is a “speedy” resolution of discrimination claims.
PMA and the ILWU both claim everything that happened was in accordance with a collective bargaining agreement ratified by both parties. They just forgot that the last paragraph of the July 1, 2014, LOU Regarding Proper Application of Section 13 states; intra-union political disputes are not covered by Section 13.1, and that all Eric’s fliers were political fliers.
Aldape’s lawyer countered that it was a kangaroo court procedure that must be complied with within days of any “discriminatory” event and robs workers of their statutory rights under state and federal law without the benefit of advising workers of the rights they are giving up.
Importantly, for victims of harassment and discrimination, there is no actual remedy, except for the discipline of the “accused.”
The lawyer for Aldape argued that even if the arbitration provision contained a warning, it cannot be saved from its illegal nature because of the way in which civil rights issues are resolved, without the benefit of lawyers, without sufficient time to gather witnesses, and before an “arbitrator” who is another longshore worker and has no other qualification.
The Judge asked PMA; How does a ILWU longshoreman, appointed as Arbitrator, accused of bias, rule himself not biased w/o a hearing, then terminate the employment of a longshoreman he admitted he threatened to kill? PMA had no answer.
Mr. Aldape was the “accused” in 15 such arbitrations over nine years. Section 13.2 was weaponized by union officials against Mr. Aldape for the publication of political flyers and cartoons which lampooned union officers and those running for office, accusing them of fraud, graft and corruption. Mr. Aldape was punished for his dissidence with nearly three years of time off and ultimately, his termination.
Mr. Aldape’s lawyer argued that the procedure was unlawful as applied to Mr. Aldape by punishing him for his outspoken and protected right to criticize union officers.
Provisions of Federal law provide protection for workers who exercise their right to freedom of speech in the workplace.
The Honorable, Andrew Birrotte, took the matter under submission and is expected to rule late next week.
The outcome will impact 22,000 longshore workers in every working Port on the West Coast, from San Diego to Bellingham.
Below are the Documents submitted to the Court prior to the Hearing: