Container traffic in the Port of New York and New Jersey remained at a standstill Wednesday morning as local dockworkers continued to observe picket lines by longshoremen from Philadelphia in defiance of a restraining order issued by a federal court in Newark Tuesday afternoon.
U.S. District Judge Dickinson Debevoise ordered local members of the International Longshoremen’s Association to observe a ruling by an arbitrator on Monday and return to work. Attorneys for the New York Shipping Association were serving notice of the return to work order to ILA locals in the port on Wednesday morning even as ILA workers observed the picket lines by members of the Philadelphia ILA.
The NYSA said its attorneys would be returning to U.S. District Court Wednesday morning to seek enforcement of the court’s order.
The Philadelphia longshoremen were picketing the terminals to protest the pending move by Del Monte Fresh Produce of 75 ship calls a year from an ILA terminal in Camden, N.J. to a non-ILA facility in Gloucester, N.J. that is owned by the Holt family.
The Philadelphia ILA claimed the move by Del Monte will cost the union 200 jobs. Jim Paylor, a vice president of the national ILA who is president of ILA Local 1566 in Philadelphia, told The Journal of Commerce earlier this month that the ILA planned to attack Del Monte’s move “on all fronts.”
The pickets by Philadelphia ILA members shut down work at all six container terminals in New York Harbor starting Tuesday morning at 8:00 a.m. including the New York Container Terminal on Staten Island, APM Terminals and Maher Terminal in Port Elizabeth, N.J., the Port Newark Container Terminal, Global Marine Terminal in Bayonne, N.J., and the Red Hook Container Terminal in Brooklyn. The only terminal that remained open was the passenger cruise terminal.
“This is not a wildcat strike,” said Jim Devine, president and CEO of New York Container Terminal. “Because of phone calls to the pier by members of the ILA, the pier was shut down as an orchestrated effort, now in defiance both of an arbitrator’s ruling and a federal court judge.”
Devine said he had been in the federal district court in Newark on Tuesday afternoon. “We were able to demonstrate that this was not a random act of sympathy with people in Philly, so this is not a wildcat strike. It was organized by the national ILA.”
Devine said his terminal had started to unload cargo from an APL ship that is part of APL's Suez Express on Monday, but all work stopped at 8 a.m. on Tuesday.
The strike stopped any work on 12 ships that were docked at the terminals in New York Harbor, according to Beverly Fedorko, a spokesperson for the New York Shipping Association. The Philadelphia ILA also picketed the Broadway Terminal in Camden, stopping the unloading of Del Monte produce from a ship docked there.
The New York Shipping Association went to court Tuesday afternoon to seek an injunction against the work stoppages, which was granted by Judge Debevoise.
“We feel strongly that these actions by the ILA, in refusing to cross a non-bona-fide line, are a violation of the no-strike clause of our current collective bargaining agreement,” said Joseph C. Curto, president of the New York Shipping Association, in a statement issued Tuesday. “We further believe these actions are completely irresponsible and accordingly we will explore all possible remedies to end this illegal action.”
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