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Major Union Files For Bankruptcy After Losing Decade-Long Legal Battle

A major dockworkers union spanning the West Coast announced it was filing for bankruptcy on Saturday in an attempt to resolve years-long pending litigation.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which covers a number of workers along the West Coast, Hawaii and in Canada, including dockworkers, warehouse workers, tourism and hospitality workers and more, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection over the weekend, according to a press release from the union. The bankruptcy is an attempt to avoid paying a fine imposed by a federal jury that held the union liable for illegal slowdowns and work stoppages at a container terminal in Portland, Oregon, operated by International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI), according to The Wall Street Journal.

“While we have attempted numerous times to resolve the decade-long litigation with ICTSI Oregon, Inc., at this point, the Union can no longer afford to defend against ICTSI’s scorched-earth litigation tactic,” Willie Adams, president of the ILWU, said in the press release. “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. The Officers are confident that we are taking the right step to put our organization on the best path forward — and we are optimistic for all that is ahead.”

The lawsuit from ICTSI dates back to 2012, with the union having recently been ordered to pay $93.6 million at the trial’s conclusion, but was later reduced to $19 million, which the company was in the process of contesting with a retrial scheduled for February 2024, according to the WSJ.

ILWU emphasized that it will maintain normal operations throughout the restructuring process, fulfilling any obligations it has to members, locals and affiliates, employees and any other groups, according to the announcement.

The union reached a tentative deal in August on an almost six-year contract that gave 20,000 workers at 29 West Coast ports greater health benefits, improved wages, pensions and safety protections. The uncertainty around a potential strike led to a decline in traffic at the ports, with some importers finding new ports of entry permanently.

The ILWU did not immediately respond to a request to comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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