On Tuesday, March 4, Central American port workers from the labor union Sindicato Gremial de Trabajadores del Muelle (SGTM) from Puerto Cortés in Honduras established a picket line in front of ICTSI’s Oregon’s operation at Terminal 6 in Portland.
SGTM workers held picket signs that read, “S.G.T.M. LOCKED OUT ICTSI” and stated that they are facing murder, military repression, death threats, and anti-union attacks. ILWU workers honored the picket line in accordance with their collective bargaining agreement.
ICTSI, the Philippines-based global terminal operator that began its first venture in the United States in 2010 when it leased Terminal 6 from the Port of Portland, is the parent company for ICTSI Oregon and Operadora Portuaria Centroamericana (OPC). On February 1, 2013, ICTSI was awarded a concession agreement in Puerto Cortés for 29 years. ICTSI then established OPC, which imposed a sham labor agreement that was approved by the Honduran Government and ICTSI but never voted on or approved by a majority of port workers. ICTSI/OPC began hiring workers under the sham labor agreement in December 2013 and, over the course of the next couple months, the company fired large numbers of union supporters. This mass firing of union supporters sparked protest on February 26, 2014. The Honduran military responded to the protest by invading the port and arresting approximately 129 workers, who were charged with “terrorism” and “damaging the national economy”. One union leader has had to flee the country after his family members were attacked, killing one and injuring others.