The New York Shipping Association said the International Longshoremen's Association's rejection of a contract extension will cost ILA members millions of dollars in wages in the Port of New York and New Jersey.
The NYSA is part of United States Maritime Alliance, which proposed a two-year extension of the ILA's Atlantic and Gulf master contract that expires next September.
The ILA's 200-member wage scale committee rejected the extension this month, mainly because it did not meet union demands to restrict the use of computer-based technology.
NYSA President Joseph Curto said the contract rejection was "disappointing" because employers had worked with the ILA in implementing technology. He said the extension would have given an immediate wage increase totaling an estimated $1.24 million in the next year to entry-level dockworkers, whose pay would have jumped from $16 an hour to $20.
ILA opponents of the extension complained that it would have delayed by one year a general wage increase set for Oct. 1 under the current contract. But Curto said that during the proposed extension to 2012, dockworker wages in the port would have risen an estimated $61.5 million because of back-loaded increases targeted mainly at workers in lower wage tiers.
"At a time when the economy has impacted many families, the members of the ILA here in the Port of New York and New Jersey would have gained substantially with the proposed contract extension," Curto said.
Frank McDonough, who retired last week as NYSA president, said the port is "on the brink of increased growth, with the expected doubling of cargo by 2020. With growth come jobs -- increased hours for existing workers and creation of jobs for future workers as well."
He said the Bayonne Bridge's restrictions on vessel clearance are the only real impediment to the port's growth and are finally being addressed, "So why would the ILA pick now to create their own obstacle to growth?"
Contact Joseph Bonney at email@example.com.