Gary Young, one of two labor representatives on the commission, will focus on bringing in business to terminals that serve the Pacific Northwest.

The Port of Portland brings in over $260 million a year and employs close to 750 people, one-third of them union members. And Portland, Ore., Local 48 Business Manager Gary Young has been tapped to serve on its commission.

“Having Brother Young serve in such an influential post is a big win for the working families of Oregon and for the broader labor movement,” said International President Lonnie R. Stephenson.

Young began his four-year term in October, filling a spot formerly held by International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 8 President Bruce Holte, said the Northwest Labor Press. The commission oversees the port area which includes the Portland International Airport, marine terminals and industrial parks.

In his new position, Young will focus on the terminals, overseeing what gets shipped out and looking for opportunities to bring in new business. The port serves Oregon, Washington and Idaho.

“There are a lot of decisions that need to be made,” Young said. “We make sure the Port is able to take care of its customers. Most importantly, we see that it remains profitable.”

The commission includes eight seats, most of which are held by members of the business community. In addition to Young, labor has one more representative, Oregon AFL-CIO President Tom Chamberlain. The Port works with 11 different unions and employs close to 300 union members during its peak season.

The agenda for 2016 will include getting former shipping business back, said the Northwest Labor Press. A recent labor dispute with the longshoremen resulted in a work slowdown that contributed to shipping companies Hanjin and Hapag-Lloyd pulling out of the terminal and taking nearly all of the container shipping business with them.

Strengthening Labor’s Impact

While the Port has been the site of labor disputes in the past, Young says Local 48 and most of the other locals have a good relationship with management.

“The Port is very labor-friendly,” Young said. “Our construction contractors are awarded bids more often than not.”

Local 48 previously worked on the rebuilding of the Port’s headquarters and recently began construction on an expansion to the north-side concourse at the Portland airport. The project is expected to take about two to three years and employ up to 120 Local 48 members. Currently, about 60 members do maintenance for the Port, Young said. 

An inside wireman by trade, Young has been Local 48’s business manager for nearly three years, previously serving as vice president and on the executive board. He says his members are mostly supportive of the appointment.

“It gives us more political horsepower,” Young said.

In addition to policy-setting and decision-making, the commission can also serve as an arbitrator for labor disputes and advise employers on issues like ensuring a minimum wage for airport employees.

Though Young has only been on the commission for a few months, he says he is already impressed with his fellow commissioners.

“I am working with great people,” Young said. “Not only are they experts in everything from foreign affairs to trade to the law, they are considerate.”

Prior to his appointment, Young worked with the Port on a program to give apprentices an easier pathway to a port job by giving them on-site work experience.

“It’s a beneficial program. It builds up a pool of people who understand the needs of the port,” Young said.

Additionally, the Port is tasked with keeping the channel clear for navigation, a unique responsibility. The Port of Portland is the only place in nation where the Army Corps of Engineers doesn’t dredge and clear the port itself. Instead, it contracts with the Port – which means jobs in the Pacific Northwest.