Port workers are currently working in unsafe and possibly deadly conditions with no communication from its management on any safety briefing of the black widow spiders that has invaded our island as a result of mismanaged protocol at the Port. When Port stevedores initially found the black widow spiders on one of the vessels, they did the right thing by immediately contacting Customs and Quarantine. The company’s vessel brought in exterminators which then began the first round of fumigation. However, instead of sending the vessel back out to sea to fumigate away from the docks, the vessel remained in the Port. After the first round was completed, port workers found more spiders. Rather than having the vessel sent back out to sea to fumigate, workers were directed to board the vessel and unload the cargo and vehicles while the vessel was being fumigated. Port stevedores were instructed to drive the vehicles off the vessel without any protective gear during the fumigation.
In the past when two vessels were infested with spiders, the port and customs sent the ship back out to sea to fumigate away from the docks. In this case, this was not handled the same way. Port workers have been finding spiders in the restrooms, on the docks, and in the gantry cranes. In fact, one worker went home and found the deadly spider in his backpack and immediately notified Agriculture. There is currently no medicine on island to treat any bites from the black widow spiders. Management has not addressed any safety or health risks to the workers further endangering not only them but the residents of our island. The safety of our island is at risk and must be addressed immediately. This is why it is so important that the Port workers have a collective bargaining agreement in place that ensures good and safe conditions that allow them to provide adequate services to our island. The collective bargaining agreement that is ready for the Attorney General’s review and off to the Governor for final approval is currently in the hands of the Port General manager who refuses to move forward with it. Our Port workers need and deserve this contract now.