Harold Daggett took over as president of the International Longshoremen’s Association on Thursday with a vow to fight automation, increase organizing and research activities, aggressively enforce container weights and work more closely with the West Coast dockworkers union.
Delegates at the ILA’s quadrennial convention in Hollywood, Fla., unanimously elected Daggett to succeed Richard Hughes Jr., who did not seek re-election.
Daggett will lead the ILA in negotiations on a new Atlantic and Gulf dockworkers’ contract to replace the one that expires Sept. 30, 2012.
In a fiery acceptance speech lasting more than 45 minutes, Daggett promised an aggressive ILA line in those negotiations and said the union will resist the spread of automated terminals.
“We are against automation in the United States on the East Coast and the West Coast,” he said.
To assertions that automated terminals such as the one APM Terminals installed at Hampton Roads, Va., produces jobs, he said, “Bull----! If you had asked Hampton Roads today if they had a vote on it, they would vote ‘no.’”
Daggett said he would pursue closer ties with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents West Coast port labor. “It is my intention to bring the ILA closer to the ILWU, as we have many matters of mutual interest in dealing with management in protecting our jurisdictions and memberships.”
He said he would ask ILWU President Bob McEllrath and a guest to sit in the next round of negotiations, expected to begin this fall. McEllrath, invited by Daggett to stand, shouted from the audience, “I’ll be there because we are one.”
Video: Daggett on Waterfront Commission, Port Worker Pay at NY-NJ
Daggett said the ILA would demand that import containers be weighed at the piers to ensure they are safe and that carriers pay the required tonnage-based container royalty fees.
“I want a scale on every pier,” he said.
Daggett added that if the ILA discover containers exceed highway weight limits, the union would insist the trucks be stopped before leaving the port, and the containers should be emptied and the cargo reloaded into other containers.
“If they want to play games,” Daggett said, “we’ll play games.”
He also said the ILA will be more aggressive in organizing and will conduct extensive research on companies’ finances before the union enters its next negotiations.
“We’re not going in there empty-handed,” Daggett said. “We’re going to know how much money each line has made the last three years.”
Daggett said the ILA would seek to organize port workers at Freeport, Bahamas, and other non-U.S. transshipment hubs whose roles are expected to increase with the opening of wider locks at the Panama Canal.
He said he would seek to include Puerto Rico in the ILA's Atlantic and Gulf master contract talks. ILA locals on the island tend to be identified with particular companies that play one local against the other, Daggett said.
He pledged to emphasize worker safety and told the ILA's two dozen vice presidents he expected them to stay in touch with the rank and file to identify and address problems.
"We will not be sitting in our offices," Daggett said. "We will be out at the ports. We want to know what problems face us today and in the future."
He also said he expects local and regional officials to solve grievances without calling in lawyers that strain finances of the ILA, whose headquarters assets have slid from $51.1 million in 2005 to $12.8 million this year.
"When the attorneys get it," Daggett said, "cha-ching, cha-ching, cha-ching, they're on the clock, the money starts."
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