The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which represents US dockworkers, has filed for a chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, reported Reuters.
This comes as the ILWU seeks to settle a pending litigation with the Oregon affiliate of the International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI).
According to the filing made in a San Francisco court on 30 September, the ILWU listed its assets and liabilities in the range of $1 million to $10 million.
ILWU International President, Willie Adams, said: “While we have attempted numerous times to resolve the decade-long litigation with ICTSI Oregon, at this point, the Union can no longer afford to defend against ICTSI’s scorched-earth litigation tactic.”
“We intend to use the chapter 11 process to implement a plan that will bring this matter to resolution and ensure that our Union continues to do its important work for our members and the community,” Adams continued.
However, ICTSI has brandished the filing as the union’s “latest manoeuvre to avoid accountability”, said in a statement to Reuters.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, the ILWU faces allegations that it unlawfully stifled operations at the Port of Portland, which was run by an affiliate of Philippines-based maritime company, for several years.
The ILWU, a union with over 4,000 members in the US and Canada, plans to file standard “First Day” motions with the court to maintain its cash management system while going through its restructuring process.
In August 2023, the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) ratified a six-year contract, which improved the pay and benefits for 22,000 employees across 29 ports stretching from California to Washington State.
This ratification marked the final stage in a lengthy process that began in May 2022, but did not result in a tentative deal until June 2023, putting shippers in uncertainty amid threats of strike action and accelerating cargo diversions to east and US Gulf coast ports.