This story really chaps my hide:
The small band of strikers that has effectively shut down the nation’s busiest shipping complex forced two huge cargo ships to head for other ports Thursday and kept at least three others away, hobbling an economic powerhouse in Southern California. The disruption is costing an estimated $1 billion a day at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, on which some 600,000 truckers, dockworkers, trading companies and others depend for their livelihoods.
Despite the union’s size — about 800 members of a unit of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union — it has managed to flex big muscles. Unlike almost anywhere else in the nation, union loyalty is strong at the country’s ports. Neither the longshoremen nor the truckers are crossing the tiny union’s picket lines.
The union contends that the dispute is over job security and the transfer of work from higher-paid union members to lower-paid employees in other countries. The 14-employer management group says that no jobs have been outsourced and that the union wants to continue a practice called “featherbedding,” or bringing in temporary workers even when there is no work. The two sides haven’t met since negotiations broke down Monday, but they were scheduled to begin talking again Thursday night. The union has worked without a contract for 21/2 years.
The clerical workers are a vital link in the supply chain. They handle the immense flow of information that accompanies each cargo ship as well as every item in the freight. One shipload of shoes, toys and other products is enough to fill five warehouses.
Bolding mine. Yes, these are “clerical workers.” They do a big job, of course, but at the end of the day it’s still pushing processing paperwork in an office, for which most people are paid under $15 an hour. Notice that the union is bitching about outsourcing while they are also “featherbedding.”
Featherbedding is basically telling your boss you need temp help even when you don’t, so you can lighten your own load. So basically they’re outsourcing their own jobs to temps who make abut $12 and a) bitching when the boss does it, and b) asking for more money. But wait until you see how much these “clerical workers” make.
Stephen Berry, lead negotiator for the shipping lines and cargo terminals, said the clerical workers have been offered a deal that includes “absolute job security,” a raise that would take average annual pay to $195,000 from $165,000, 11 weeks’ paid vacation and a generous pension increase.
Yeah, you read that right. They’ve been offered an increase in vacation time that amounts to 1/5th of the work year, and an average $30,000 a year increase in an already exorbitant salary. All while they’re asking $12 an hour temps to do some of their work.
As I said, these employees do a big job, and just how big is detailed in the article:
Logistics clerk Trinie Thompson, 41, normally spends her days working with railroad lines and trucking companies to ensure that the right containers are sent along to their proper destinations. On Thursday, she was walking the picket lines at the docks.
“We will be setting up trains to Houston, trains to Dallas, to Chicago, to the Pacific Northwest,” said Thompson, who has worked for 10 years for Eagle Marine Services terminal, which is affiliated with the giant APL shipping line.
“For a typical container ship, we will have to set up multiple trains. We might be sending 200 to 300 containers to Chicago alone, and there will be paperwork for all of them.”
So, to be fair they do deserve somewhat higher pay that your typical clerical worker. For the sake of fairness, let’s call them “logistics managers.” Still, do they deserve to make 12 times what an average secretary or other administrative support personnel makes? Who gets an average $30,000 raise in salary, even over 2 years, without a promotion? And who gets to take off 1/5th of the work year for freakin’ vacation?
Look, this ain’t France, and from what I hear, France ain’t gonna be France much longer. But guess who’s going to eat the $1 billion per day this strike is costing? Go ahead, guess… Here’s a couple of hints: It’s not going to be the companies, and it’s not going to be the union.
Remember that when your grocery bill goes up next month, and the cost of everything rises along with it. That’s happening so some secretaries could join the top 3% of earners, because being in the top 5% wasn’t good enough.
FFS, this is an open thread.