Hundreds of longshoremen and other workers crowded the streets of San Pedro on Wednesday to protest what they called a threat to unionized labor at the Port of Los Angeles.
Chanting and waving placards, the protesters amassed at Harbor Department headquarters a block from the docks in a preemptive strike against a proposal to hire nonunion workers for scores of jobs at the port's $120-million coal terminal, which is under construction.
"Those jobs are our jobs and we want [them]," longshoreman Domenick Miretti told the cheering crowd, which marched less than a mile to the Harbor Department from Ports O' Call Village. On the way, the throng stopped briefly to jeer the offices of LAXT Inc., the company that will oversee the new coal facility.
The firm, made up of foreign and domestic investors and the Harbor Department, has contracted with Utah-based Pacific Carbon Services to operate the facility, where coal is loaded onto freighters. The longshoremen will reportedly continue to load coal onto ships at the facility, but the actual dockside processing of the coal could be farmed out to nonunion labor.
Klenell Mounteer, a spokeswoman for Pacific Carbon Services parent company, Savage Industries, said the contract is not set to begin until the facility is completed in 1997 and no decision on the labor force has been made.
That was of little comfort to longshoremen such as Ray Familathe.
"This is an informational demonstration to let them know we want answers," Familathe said as he walked toward Harbor Department headquarters. "Our labor has made Los Angeles-Long Beach the busiest port in the nation, and we want our labor to continue on."