Thirty workers at Pacific Tugboat Service (PTS) are now members of the ILWU’s Marine Division, the Inlandboatmen’s Union (IBU). On May 30th, the company agreed to recognize the union following a successful organizing effort by PTS workers that was coordinated by IBU President Alan Cote and IBU Southern California Regional Director John Skow with critical support from IBU members and help from the ILWU International Organizing Department.
“I was so excited that I wore my IBU colors today,” said Tom Manson, an Engineer at PTS who supported the organizing effort. “I look forward to be part of this great organization that cares about the workers’ rights.”
3-year organizing effort
The organizing process started at the IBU convention in October 2009 when delegates adopted a resolution noting the concerns of PTS workers –including their frustration with being unable to secure government work projects in Southern California because they fell short of area standards requirements without a union.
Support & mentoring
During the following years, IBU’s Southern California Region adopted an organizing plan to involve and connect PTS employees with IBU members who volunteered to support the union effort. Two of the IBU members who volunteered their leadership skills to help the PTS workers were Adam Dalton, who works at Manson Construction and Chairs the IBU Southern California Region, along with Kenyatta Whittworth, who works at Foss Maritime and serves as Vice-Chair for IBU’s Southern California Region.
These and other IBU members held “one-on-one” meetings with PTS workers to encourage and mentor them until a core group of supporters was established. After the PTS Organizing Committee was in place, regular meetings were held to provide ongoing advice and support until other co-workers were onboard with the union.
“The PTS employees will be a great addition to the Southern California Region and the ILWU family,” said Dalton, who praised the PTS brothers for their determination and patience.
PTS started three decades ago with two small tugs and six employees. Since then it has grown into a multimillion-dollar business that provides harbor and ocean towing, crew boat and launch services, barge and roll-on/roll-off vessels, marine construction, ship assist and husbandry services.
PTS is based in San Diego with operations in Long Beach, allowing them to work throughout Southern California and beyond. Their fleet now includes 11 tugs, 4 crew boats, 2 landing craft, 2 workboats and 2 skiffs.
“We’re excited about welcoming these new IBU members to our union and hope to build a mutually- respectful relationship with Pacific Tug Boat Service management. We wouldn’t be celebrating with PTS workers today without the support from by Adam Dalton, Kenyatta Whittworth and other IBU volunteers who stepped forward to help. This was a team effort.”
Workers will soon conduct an election to select the co-workers who will serve on a Bargaining Committee, then develop proposals for their first union contract.