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Los Angeles
Thursday, Feb 22, 2024



Senior Reporter

The Port of L.A.’s harbor pilot strike may be history, but the effects are lingering.

During the 20-week strike, six pilots broke with their union and continued to guide ships to port, earning thousands of dollars in overtime while their 10 striking counterparts lost $2,000 a week in pay to walk the picket line. But when the strike was settled, all the pilots received a 23.6 percent salary increase over the next four years.

Now, more than a little resentment persists between the two groups, said Noel Cunningham, the port’s director of operations.

“It’s human nature,” Cunningham said. “There is anger and frustration and it has surfaced. It keeps a chill in the air.”

Rather than taunts, insults or fisticuffs, the animosity has taken the form of “the silent treatment,” with the strikers refusing to acknowledge those who continued to work, Cunningham said. In one incident on the water, a striking pilot refused to share information with a non-striker who was replacing him.

That pilot has been disciplined, said Cunningham, who insisted that the ill will in the pilot station is having no impact on either safety or efficiency.

In another recent incident, a non-striker arrived at work to find the word “Scab” written on the blackboard in the port’s pilot station. The matter is being investigated, Cunningham said, adding that pilots who continue with such provocations could be suspended or discharged.

Meanwhile, the non-striker pilots are being permitted to work from their homes, rather than the pilot station.

Despite the workplace animosity, Cunningham does not expect any of the pilots to quit their jobs. Piloting is among the most coveted of maritime positions. L.A.’s pilots currently earn $113,712 a year; by Jan. 2001, when the last increase under their new contract will occur, the pilots will be making $140,571.

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