The International Longshoremen's Association won assurances its members will still maintain and repair chassis previously provided by ocean carriers but now rented to truckers by leasing companies.
"It's a big victory for us. We'd been pushing hard for this," said Harold Daggett, ILA executive vice president and head of the union's 1,500-member M&R local in the Port of New York and New Jersey.
Daggett threatened last fall to declare "war" on any carriers that tried to circumvent union jurisdiction over chassis maintenance and repair by farming out the work to non-ILA contractors. He said Monday he was satisfied with assurances the union had received from leasing companies that have been taking carriers' place as chassis providers.
Container lines have moved aggressively in the last year to extricate themselves from their longstanding practice of providing free chassis to customers. Maersk led the way when it began transferring its chassis to newly formed Direct ChassisLink, which provides truckers with unlimited use of the chassis for a daily $11 fee.
Direct ChassisLink has continued to hire ILA labor for chassis repairs but Daggett said last year he was concerned that other carriers would try to avoid the union by transferring the work to non-ILA companies.
ILA officials and executives of United States Maritime Alliance, the management group that negotiates and administers the coastwide master contract for dockworkers in Atlantic and Gulf ports, discussed chassis jurisdiction at meetings last month in Hollywood, Fla.
After the meetings, officials from Flexi-Van and TRAC wrote similarly worded letters to USMX Chairman James Capo on Dec. 20, saying they wanted to clear up "any misperception that may exist in the industry concerning ILA jurisdiction over chassis repairs."
Flexi-Van and TRAC pledged to respect ILA jurisdiction over marine chassis repairs at ocean terminals and off-pier facilities where the union currently has jurisdiction and performs the work. The lessors also said that any future pools they establish or manage at marine terminals or off-pier facilities in ports where the ILA has jurisdiction would use repair vendors who hire ILA labor.
The letters were circulated to ILA locals by the union's president, Richard Hughes, who said in a cover note that the lessors' statements were "self-explanatory."
Although Flexi-Van and TRAC are not signatories to the union's master contract, Daggett said he was satisfied that the companies "are on record that the work will be done by the ILA."
Both companies have been expanding their programs for daily rental of chassis to motor carriers. Flexi-Van plans on Feb. 1 to add Jacksonville to the list of South Atlantic depots covered by its FlexiDay program. TRAC said last week it will extend its TRAC Connect program to the South Atlantic Chassis Pool for motor carriers serving CMA CGM, which recently said it would quit providing chassis to motor carriers as part of its U.S. operatiosn.
-- Contact Joseph Bonney at firstname.lastname@example.org.