Port terminal operator APM eavesdropped on workers, union alleges

APM Terminals has been accused by a California dockworkers union of eavesdropping on workers to gain an edge in contract negotiations.

The complaint, filed with the National Labor Relations Board by International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63, said APM "conducted secret surveillance, eavesdropping and snooping and listening in on confidential communications between and among union representatives, shop stewards and members concerning ongoing contract negotiations, bargaining strategies and labor-management issues."

The complaint was filed Nov. 14, about two weeks before the union's clerical workers went on an eight-day strike that shut down most of the cargo terminals at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the busiest seaport complex in the country. In the document, the union local alleges that the surveillance dates back at least six months.

An APM official said the company is treating the accusation seriously and put an employee on administrative leave as it conducts its own investigation.

"The allegations when they were received were certainly of great concern to APM Terminals," said John Crowley, APM's senior vice president for law and regulatory affairs.

"It is not APM's policy to monitor a union member's calls, and APM Terminals is conducting an investigation into the allegations, as is typical in any case like this," Crowley said.

A spokeswoman for the National Labor Relations Board, Nancy Cleeland, said the union's allegation is under investigation.

The eavesdropping accusation was first reported this month by Fagbladet 3F, a news periodical published by Denmark's largest trade union. APM's parent company, A.P. Moller-Maersk Group, is based in Denmark.

business@latimes.com

Shapiro writes for the Daily Press in Newport News, Va.

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