International Longshoremen’s Association President Harold Daggett said the ILA will enter this year’s contract negotiations seeking guaranteed minimum staffing and protection against job cuts from labor-saving technology.
“We know technology is coming and we know we can’t stop it forever, but we will not be deterred from protecting our work and our jurisdiction,” Daggett said in a “letter to transportation media.”
“Companies will want technology that makes them more efficient and profitable, but the ILA will make sure that such technology does not adversely affect our workforce and our members,” he said.
The ILA and United States Maritime Alliance are preparing to begin negotiations this spring on a coastwide master contract to replace the one that expires Sept. 30. The negotiations will be the Daggett’s first since his election as ILA president last July.
“As we approach this master contract, it is important that we not only consider, but actively plan for the effects of automation,” his letter said. “It’s no secret that technology used to automate ports can be devastating to the livelihoods of the men and women of our industry. We have seen these devastating effects first hand, watching the once-bustling port of Rotterdam turn into a virtual ghost town because of automation. We see the writing on the wall at ports like Hampton Roads.”
Daggett has criticized technology at European ports such as Rotterdam, which uses automated yard vehicles to use containers, and the introduction of semi-automated technology at Hampton Roads, Va.
More recently, he has criticized plans by Global Terminal in Bayonne, N.J., to install remote-controlled, rail-mounted gantry cranes and truck-gate scanners in an expansion set for completion in 2014.
Introducing technology without job guarantees “is a recipe for disaster and a way to utilize attrition to kill our jobs and our union,” he said.
The ILA will try to use staffing agreements negotiated by two New Jersey-based union locals as a blueprint for future negotiations.
Daggett noted that Local 1804-1, which he formerly headed, negotiated an agreement protecting existing jobs when Maher Terminals installed truck-gate scanners at its Elizabeth, N.J., terminal several years ago.
He said Local 1964 has an agreement setting a 107-employee minimum for its employee bargaining unit at Evergreen America’s New Jersey office, and recently negotiated a pact with United Arab Agencies that includes 10-year job guarantees for two terminal and equipment coordinator positions.
“These past agreements have given us the blueprint to protect ourselves from current and future automation. It is more important than ever that we take a proactive stance on technology during this upcoming contract negotiation. We have seen these manning agreements used successfully to protect staffing numbers when dealing with technology and automation,” Daggett said.