Port Workers Protest Possible U.S.  Intervention
  Labor: The ILWU and Pacific Maritime Assn. have not been able to agree on a contract, which expired July 1.

                   By LOUIS SAHAGUN and NANCY CLEELAND, Times Staff Writers

                   With the federal government threatening to get
                   involved in contract talks between port workers
                   and shipping firms, the International Longshore and
                   Warehouse Union on Monday decided it was time
                   to march.

                   Carrying signs that said "Fight Terrorism, Not
                   American Workers," about 2,000 union members
                   strode through downtown Long Beach to protest
                   federal plans for bringing in federal troops to run the
                   nation's busiest harbor complex should the two
                   sides fail to reach an agreement.

                   The contract, which covers more than 10,500 union
                   members at 29 West Coast ports handling 7% of
                   the U.S. gross domestic product, expired July 1.

                   Since then, the union and the Pacific Maritime
                   Assn., which represents shipping lines and
                   stevedoring companies, have been unable to reach
                   a settlement.

                   Negotiations resume today in San Francisco, after a three-week break called
                   by the union after its members rejected an offer from the shipping lines.

                   The Bush administration's threat to intervene has become a major point of
                   contention. The White House convened a working group to monitor port talks
                   in June, with representatives from the departments of Labor, Commerce,
                   Transportation and Homeland Security.

                   A Labor Department official who has been in touch with the union and shipping
                   lines confirmed last week that he had discussed four options that might come
                   into play if the union called a strike, including forcing union members to work
                   through an 80-day cooling-off period or using Navy personnel to operate port

                   Speaking on condition that he not be identified, the official insisted the
                   administration has been neutral but is worried that a port strike could cripple
                   the economy.

                   The union responded Monday by sponsoring rallies in five port communities
                   from Portland, Ore., to San Diego, which drew half a dozen mayors, including
                   Willie Brown of San Francisco and Jerry Brown of Oakland, as well as Senate
                   Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), who spoke in Portland.

                   The march in Long Beach culminated in a demonstration at Lincoln Park
                   attended by supporters, who included Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice

                   "We cannot allow the heavy hand of the Bush administration to come in here
                   and in any way change the outcome of the negotiations," Hahn told the
                   appreciative crowd.

                   "There's only one reason they would want to get involved at all," Hahn said,
                   "and that's to break the union. We will not let that happen."

                   Union officials and rank-and-file members agreed, saying that U.S. intervention
                   would give shippers an unfair advantage.

                   "Why should the PMA even want to settle with us if federal troops are standing
                   behind them?" said Roxanne Lawrence, an ILWU marine clerk for 15 years.
                   "It's not fair and it's not right."

                   Added Lawrence: "Dispatching the National Guard to the ports in the name of
                   national security would be an absolute mess."

                   From a stage erected in the shadow of PMA's Long Beach headquarters,
                   Dominic Maretti, a Los Angeles Harbor Commission liaison for the union, said
                   port workers would never endanger national security and reminded the crowd
                   that, even in times of labor strife, longshore workers have done their part for
                   the nation.

                   "This union has a long-standing policy," he said. "During a strike, we move all
                   military goods, troops and passengers."

                   Rhetoric has grown tense in the last week, with each side claiming the other is
                   not bargaining seriously. Key differences are the introduction of labor-saving
                   technology and union concerns about outsourcing jobs.

                   The Pacific Maritime Assn. has called for professional mediation unless it sees
                   "hard bargaining" at the table today.

                   "If the union comes in with a proposal and I see any room at all for us to begin
                   to get into real serious negotiations, then we can move forward," said PMA
                   President Joseph Miniace.

                   Union spokesman Steve Stallone said members of the union negotiating team
                   met Monday afternoon to discuss a new proposal. However, he said they were
                   unlikely to agree to mediation as long as Bush administration officials hold out
                   the prospect of intervention in the event of a strike.

                   The AFL-CIO executive council last week pledged its support to the longshore
                   union and called for no intervention. The Los Angeles City Council also voted
                   to ask the Bush administration to remain outside the negotiations.

                   "Our contention is that we've never yet had an opportunity to sit down with just
                   the two parties. We've always had a third party lurking in the background,"
                   said Stallone, referring to administration officials. "I think it's possible to come
                   to an agreement if there's no intervention." 

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