Trump administration moves to invalidate Longshoremen’s union election

  • April 19, 2019

Trump administration moves to invalidate Longshoremen’s union election

This is a very interesting development related to labor issues tieing into Latin America, something that seems to be on the rise with recenet labor unrest in Mexico.

The Trump administration asked a federal judge to invalidate key results of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s 2018 election, arguing that the union did not count nearly 2,000 ballots from members in Panama.

In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Northern California, the Labor Department asked the judge to require a new election for ILWU president, vice president, secretary-treasurer and the international executive board officer for Panama. The margins of victory for those positions were less than the 1,970 Panamanian votes that were not counted, DOL said.

Willie Adams, the first black president of ILWU, won by 393 votes. The union board voted 15-6 in October 2018 to certify the results despite the uncounted ballots from Panama, according to news reports. A union spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment Thursday.

A postage mix-up prevented 1,970 dock workers and ship pilots in Panama from mailing their ballots to the U.S. More than 1,000 of those ballots were shipped in a box and arrived in time to be counted, but the union board “decided to disqualify the ballots because they were not voted in accordance with” its bylaws, according to the complaint. In addition, the instructions were not “fully or accurately” translated to Spanish, DOL said.

DOL argues that ILWU violated the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, which requires unions to provide every member the opportunity to vote.

ILWU represents port workers in the U.S. and Canada, and in 2011 joined with dock workers and ship drivers along the Panama Canal. The union reportedly sought to increase its bargaining power, worried that a planned widening of the canal could siphon business from West Coast ports.