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            august 23, 2019

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ILWU blasts plan to automate in LA


The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) is protesting the introduction of automation at APM Terminals (APMT) Pier 400 in the Port of Los Angeles as "not good for labour and not good for America". But APMT, Maersk's port operating arm, says the right to have technology reduce headcount was agreed to by the union as long ago as 2008, according to Shipping Gazette.
But union ignored that, saying: "We represent humans, not robots, and humans need employment," ILWU official Ray Familathe told a meeting of the Los Angeles Board of Harbour Commissioners, reported American Shipper.
"Robots are a loss to the community. Robots don't shop in the local community, they don't pay city or state taxes, they don't vote for politicians. They don't do anything except create revenue for the company," said Mr Familathe.
But APMT explained it was "necessary to ensure Pier 400 is compliant with the upcoming California Air Resources Board (CARB) regulations and Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) that mandate zero to near-zero emissions from all container-handling equipment by the year 2030.
"As part of this regulation, APM Terminals must submit their plan this year explaining how we will achieve compliance," said APMT in a letter to customers.
Mr Familathe said there has been 70 per cent job loss at other automated terminals in the San Pedro Bay area. "I'm tired of listening to global terminal operators. It's about labour, saving labour costs," he said.
ILWU vice president Gary Herrera said APMT was "trying to get rid of us, the working class. This is a direct strike against not only our labour but our community."
But APMT labour affairs chief John Ochs said the master contract negotiated between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) gave marine terminals the ability to employ technology.
"At bargaining in 2008, we negotiated the ability to bring in automation which displaces longshore work," he said. "This language has been in the contract for 11 years.
"It's in the contract. We have a labour agreement. I have the ability to automate our facility in accordance with this labour agreement. The union cannot give the advantage to one terminal," he said.

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