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Wednesday, April 24, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Discrimination Persists at LA Ports, Women Say

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Dock companies at Long Beach and Los Angeles ports have ignored court orders to protect against employment discrimination, two black women claim in court.

Clovijean Good and Modupe Oshikoya, dock workers and members of the International Longshore & Warehouse Union, sued 32 port terminal and docking companies on Friday in state court. The case is the Top Download for Courthouse News on Monday.

They claim that port companies have failed to hire them as full-time dock bosses more than 15 years after Good filed a "seminal, groundbreaking" case against port companies claiming discrimination, harassment and retaliation.

That lawsuit focused on the hiring practices at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, the first and second busiest ports in the nation respectively.

A federal judge sent Good's 1999 complaint, titled Simsisulu, Good, et al. v. Pacific Maritime Association, to arbitration in September 2003.

The panel found in favor of Good, approving policies that would pave the way for black women to secure work as full-time, night-side marine clerks. The ruling meant that black women could also rise to the position of walking boss foreman.

In her Oct. 15 complaint, Good says that though the ruling led to her promotion in 2004 as a walking boss foreman she is still dispatched daily as a foreman and has not been able to rise to position as a steady, or full-time, boss.

A steady foreman "is a foreman that is not dispatched from the hall to available jobs on a daily basis. Rather, a steady is essentially hired/promoted to work on a full-time basis for a specific employer," the lawsuit explains in a footnote. "A steady does not have to go through a daily dispatch process, and there are definite economic advantages including guaranteed pay incentives and the ability to work and attain additional benefits from other employers that are unavailable to non-steadies."

Good says she was denied steady work because of her race and gender and because of her victory in the fight to end the discrimination.

"Defendants have failed to follow the policies and procedures for selecting steadies as proscribed in Simsisulul Good; and these violations, among other things, resulted in the exclusion of the plaintiffs and other African-American females as steady walking boss foremen," the complaint states.

According to Good, the defendants have used a discriminatory selection process since 2003. She seeks an injunction that ensures that a "proportionate share" of walking boss foreman are black women. The lawsuit also seeks damages, attorney fees and costs.

The plaintiffs are represented by Jeffery Landa and Robert Waller.

Named defendant Pacific Maritime Association negotiates and administers maritime labor agreements with International Longshore & Warehouse Union. It did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.

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