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  • Writer's pictureFirst Port Global (FPG)

Automation fight over in Los Angeles

Los Angeles politicians announce agreement over retraining for ILWU members displaced by automation.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councillor Joe Buscaino have announced agreements relating to APM Terminals Pier 400 automation project that signal there will be no political attempt to prevent APM Terminals proceeding with its plans for automated straddle carriers at Pier 400.

Under the announcement the ILWU, APM Terminals and the PMA agreed to “establish an industry-first technical training program at the Port of Los Angeles” that will retrain and re-skill some ILWU members for new roles.

“In Los Angeles, we know that if we don’t guide the future, workers and communities can be left behind,” said Mayor Garcetti. “This workforce training program will ensure today’s waterfront workers are equipped for tomorrow’s jobs, and continue to support the harbour community. I will never stop fighting to preserve good, middle-class jobs and protect the hardworking women and men who power our economy — and today’s agreement is a start, and not an end, to our work.”

Council member Joe Buscaino was one of the most vocal critics of automation, but he is no longer calling for political action to change the existing agreements and regulatory framework and prevent APM Terminals implementing its plan. Instead Buscaino proposed a “Blue Ribbon Commission”, which will be convened in the coming months “to study the issue of automation and the future of the work at the Port of Los Angeles, and will provide recommendations to Mayor Garcetti and the full City Council”.

“While APM and ILWU have come to an agreement this week, I will continue to support our longshore men and women as they fight to protect jobs and the future of work in the United States,” said Buscaino. “The agreement is not the end of this conversation, but the beginning and I am calling for the City of Los Angeles to create a Blue Ribbon Commission on the future of work and automation in our city. We must prepare for the future today because as this fight has shown the future is already here."

“I’m pleased that we can begin the much-needed training that moves the cargo in and out of the nation’s busiest port complex,” said Ray Familathe, President of ILWU Local 13. “This is a bittersweet transition for our members as we move forward with the extremely challenging issues that affect jobs and our local community. It’s also important that the Blue Ribbon Commission takes a hard look at the challenging issues and comes up with concrete recommendations.”

“This agreement calls for a comprehensive, fully-paid training program to re-skill and up-skill longshore workers to equip them for the next generation of work on the waterfront,” said Jim McKenna, CEO of the Pacific Maritime Association. “This will help longshore workers prepare for the port jobs of the future.”

“We believe that it is critical to the continued success of the Port of Los Angeles that the ILWU is trained for the jobs of the future,” APM Terminals said in a statement. “As we prepare to modernize Pier 400, we are glad to be working in partnership with the ILWU on implementing a training program that complements the changes at Pier 400.”

“These agreements, along with the formation of a commission that will tackle these issues in-depth, are significant steps forward and shows that common ground can be found,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “I’m grateful to our stakeholders for sticking with these months of negotiations and thankful to Mayor Garcetti for facilitating the dialogue.”

APM Terminals now has the task of managing what will be a difficult technology migration at Pier 400. The first six of 130 Kalmar automated straddle carriers are being shipped to the terminal now.

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