International Longshoremen’s Association official Harold Daggett said he’s ready for “war” with container lines transferring intermodal chassis service to companies outside the union’s coastwide master contract.
“They’ve declared war with me and I’m going after all of them,” Daggett said in an interview Tuesday.
“There’s going to be a war here. I’m going to take on all of these lines that say they’re getting rid of the chassis,” he said. “If they think they’re going to create a European situation where they’re getting out of the chassis business, it’s not going to happen, not on my watch.”
He said the ILA may seek fines of $2,000 per container against carriers it claims are violating the union contract. He said the ILA also may conduct “thorough, thorough inspections” of boxes placed on chassis of companies that haven’t signed the contract.
“This is not a slowdown I’m talking about. We’re just going to show them we have the right to inspect these containers so that they’re safe for the highways,” Daggett told The Journal of Commerce.
“I’m not threatening anybody but this is our work and our jobs, this is our livelihood and I will fight for every member of the ILA to protect our jobs. That’s what they elected me for.”
Daggett, the union’s executive vice president, is considered the likely successor to ILA President Richard Hughes, who hasn’t said whether he’ll seek re-election next year.
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He said representatives of ILA locals in Atlantic and Gulf ports will review their options in December when union and management officials meet in Florida to discuss chassis management and other issues. “If I don’t get a good response at that meeting, I will go full force after that,” he said.
Daggett said any ILA action would be aimed only at carriers that have shifted chassis maintenance and repair to companies that haven’t signed the ILA contract. Leasing companies and chassis pool operators use ILA labor in New York-New Jersey and other ports but can hire non-ILA labor elsewhere because they aren’t part of the coastwide contract signed by carriers.
The U.S. is the only major nation where ocean carriers routinely have provided chassis for free. Elsewhere, customers arrange for their own chassis. Since Maersk Line began shifting its chassis to its separate Direct ChassisLink business early last year, more than a half dozen carriers have moved to require customers to arrange for their own chassis.
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Daggett said he has no complaint with DCLI, which has continued to use ILA labor in New York-New Jersey at Maersk’s sister company APM Terminals. “They charge a driver $11 a day for the chassis but when the driver’s done with it they get it repaired by the ILA,” he said.
He said leasing companies and pool operators should become members of management associations that negotiate with the union. He also said carriers should talk with the ILA before changing their chassis M&R arrangements. “All these guys did was go to The Journal of Commerce and say they’re leaving the chassis business,” he said.
James Capo, CEO of United States Maritime Alliance, which represents management, declined to respond in detail to Daggett’s statements. “If in fact he thinks he has a case, then there’s a proper forum for discussing and resolving those issues, and it’s not in The Journal of Commerce,” Capo said.
-- Contact Joseph Bonney at email@example.com.