The International Longshoremen’s Association said its protest of a stevedore’s use of non-ILA labor would continue this week in Charleston, S.C., where a military pre-positioning ship is being loaded with ammunition.
Union members picketed Monday outside the Marine Corps Barracks in Washington and the naval weapons station in the South Carolina port.
The ILA is protesting the hiring of International Union of Operating Engineers labor from Jacksonville, Fla., to load ammunition onto the USNS Lewis & Clark for the Marines.
The operating engineers are hired by Portus Stevedoring, which has contracted to handle Marine shipments at Jacksonville, Fla., since 2005. Portus said its contract with the Marines allows the company’s workers to follow the ship to Charleston to pick up ammunition after loading regular cargo onto the vessel at Jacksonville.
The ILA has a contract to handle Army cargo at Charleston, but has no agreement to handle the Marines’ less-frequent shipments at the port.
The ILA said it has been working with the AFL-CIO and other unions in the federation to urge the Marines to assign the work to ILA members.
Don Marcus, secretary-treasurer of the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots, an ILA affiliate, has asked the Military Sealift Command to explain the use of non-ILA labor to handle the cargo.
Ken Riley, president of ILA Local 1422 in Charleston and of the South Carolina AFL-CIO, said the ILA has provided the military for years with a reliable work force that can meet emergency needs.
“When the military needs to move cargo, we do whatever we have to do, and do it well,” he said. “It’s beyond me why, after all these years, the military is moving from best value to lowest bid. Our troops deserve the best.”