Waterfront Commission presses inquiry into NY-NJ port strike

Waterfront Commission presses inquiry into NY-NJ port strike

Dockworkers stand outside the Port of New York and New Jersey during the Jan. 29 strike.

NEWARK, New Jersey — The Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor has subpoenaed numerous longshoremen in an effort to identify the organizers and cause of a Jan. 29 wildcat strike that idled the East Coast’s busiest port.

“We’ve interviewed dozens of people and have dozens more to go,” Walter Arsenault, the commission's executive director, told JOC.com

Arsenault would not discuss what the agency has learned so far, but said interviews continue to turn up new leads. He and Phoebe Sorial, the commission’s general counsel, said the investigation could take another month or so, after which the commission will issue a report.

There’s been no clear explanation for the one-day strike, which blindsided terminal operators, truckers, shippers and even many dockworkers who told JOC.com they had no idea why the surprise walkout was called at 10 a.m. on a busy Friday.

An International Longshoremen’s Association spokesman said the walkout was a spontaneous protest that appeared to be aimed chiefly at the Waterfront Commission, a bistate crime watchdog agency that has jousted repeatedly with the ILA over hiring and other issues.

ILA President Harold Daggett said he had no advance knowledge of the strike, and he disputed JOC.com reports that the walkout originated within mechanics’ Local 1804-1, which he formerly headed and now is overseen by his son Dennis, the ILA’s executive vice president.

The strike ended after the New York Shipping Association secured an arbitrator's ruling that the work stoppage violated the NYSA-ILA contract's no-strike provision, and the ILA urged union members to return to work.

Shippers were angered by the strike. Matthew Shay, president of the National Retail Federation, said the work stoppage sent “a very troublesome message to the port’s customers — the cargo owners.”

The inquiry by the Waterfront Commission, which licenses longshoremen at the port and operates as a police agency on the docks, is authorized under the commission’s charter, Arsenault and Sorial told JOC.com.

“The Waterfront Commission Act empowers the commission to conduct investigations and collect and compile information regarding waterfront practices generally within the port,” Sorial said.

Contact Joseph Bonney at joseph.bonney@ihs.com and follow him on Twitter: @JosephBonney.

Comments

Reminds me of the last investigation where they brought in over 80 people to find out who stole a sausage sandwich and juice from the lunch truck. They think they are Elliot Ness and the untouchables. What a waste of time and resources. But what the heck, the waterfront commission gets there payroll by imposing a tax on the company payroll of everyone who works there. What a scam. No where else in the country does this happen. Want to stop crime. Eliminate the corrupt commission. Just check out the 2 New Yorker going to jail(Skelos-Silver). They helped fill those jobs in the commission with political hacks. Sue me if I'm lying!!!

Reminds me of the last investigation where they brought in over 80 people to find out who stole a sausage sandwich and juice from the lunch truck. They think they are Elliot Ness and the untouchables. What a waste of time and resources. But what the heck, the waterfront commission gets there payroll by imposing a tax on the company payroll of everyone who works there. What a scam. No where else in the country does this happen. Want to stop crime. Eliminate the corrupt commission. Just check out the 2 New Yorker going to jail(Skelos-Silver). They helped fill those jobs in the commission with political hacks. Sue me if I'm lying!!!