Judge Orders Houston Longshoremen Back To Work
HOUSTON (AP) _ Longshoremen returned to work without incident Wednesday after a federal judge intervened in a wildcat strike that temporarily shut down the Port of Houston, officials said.
The port was paralyzed for several hours Tuesday afternoon after a mob of men armed with knives and razors stormed a terminal, slashing more than 1,000 100-pound sacks of rice and reportedly threatening non-union dockworkers.
No one was injured.
An undetermined number of International Longshoremen’s Association members from the union’s Local 24 left their jobs at the Turning Basin docks after the episode to protest a company’s use of non-ILA labor to load the rice, authorities said.
Port of Houston spokesman Lee Vela said the longshoremen idled five ships on the docks, five miles east of downtown.
U.S. District Judge David Hittner ordered the workers back on the job late Tuesday. The West Gulf Maritime Association, a waterfront employers’ trade group, said the walkout violated its contract with the ILA.
Lawyers for the ILA’s South Atlantic and Gulf Coast District and for ILA Local 24, some of whose members engaged in the wildcat strike, had no objection to the back-to-work order. They said the ILA leadership had no role in instigating the strike.
″We have a contract to the stevedores. We’re going to fulfill it. We’re going to work because these people are our bread and butter,″ said Local 24 Vice President Jerry Hibbeler.
ILA longshoremen make $12 to $18 an hour, depending on the kind of cargo they are working, and their employers pay up to $7 into a benefit fund for each hour they work. Non-union workers from $6 to $8 an hour, often without benefits.
Houston police Sgt. J.A. Pavalock said Wednesday that no further incidents were reported.