Port renews contract with lawyers assisting with Local 47-B union negotiations


The Port of Olympia Commission authorized Acting Executive Director Rudy Rudolph to sign an amendment to the contract of the law firm of Chmelik Sitkin & Davis, extending their services until the end of 2023 and increasing the contract limit amount to $100,000.

The law firm provides legal counsel to the Port concerning contract negotiations with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 47-B, a union representing the marina and boat works employees.

Port staff had originally recommended extending the contract, which had already expired on March 30, to the end of 2024 and adding $250,000 to its not-to-exceed amount.

The original recommendation would have raised the contract amount from $50,000 to $300,000, but the Port Commission did not agree with this request.

Commissioners Bob Iyall said that the original request of Port staff was too big of a bite and that they should be taking smaller steps. Commissioner Amy Evans Harding agreed with him and suggested raising the contract amount to just $100,000.

“I think I would be more comfortable with a shorter term and a smaller dollar amount just to demonstrate [that] the commission continues to want to see a mutually beneficial labor contract,” Evans Harding said.

Rudolph said that they suggested setting the contract amount to $300,000 to save the commission time from doing another amendment.

“That’s just the normal limit for a contract and we can certainly do it for less than that. We just did it at $300,000 to save us having to come back to the Port Commission for another amendment,” Rudolph said,

“This is contract authority, there’s no intent to spend it if we don’t have to, but that’s the reason it’s there.”

During public comments, Debby Pattin, who chairs the Port’s Citizen Advisory Committee but was speaking as an individual during the meeting, said that it was unnecessary to keep the contract as the original ask of $300,000 would have been enough to cover the demands of Local 47-B members.

“$300,000 divided by the 15 members that are trying to negotiate this 47B would come out to $20,000 a piece, which is more than they’re even asking for in their wage increase,” Pattin said.

“It just doesn’t seem to me and probably to the public that this is really in good faith to potentially spend $20,000 per bargaining unit member on attorneys when instead they could give that money to the workers and resolve this,” added Pattin.

The Port is currently going through mediation with Local 47B members through the help of the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC), which has been ongoing since March.


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  • debpattin

    I believe that "obstructing" would be a more accurate verb than "assisting". If the attorneys were actually assisting, they would have done what former Port Commissioner Bill McGregor stated in public comment, which was to take the existing ILWU 47A contract, already accepted by the Port Commissioners, and amend it to add the job titles and descriptions of the 47B workers. There is no need to have prolonged bargaining for months and years.

    Wednesday, July 26, 2023 Report this

  • Madeline_Bishop

    Thank you Debby Pattin for speaking out! Well said.

    Wednesday, July 26, 2023 Report this