Maryland Secretary of State Richard Trainor said the state is preparing to take over day-to-day operations of some, or perhaps all, of its terminals.
"We're going through all our options," he said Monday, following a meeting of the Maryland Port Commission, which he chairs.The commission sets policy for the Maryland Port Administration.
Mr. Trainor said there are several scenarios to the state abandoning its traditional landlord status. But what happens will depend on the result of contract negotiations between the International Longshoremen's Association and port employers represented by the Steamship Trade Association.
Those talks have been rocky and the union has threatened to strike in January.
Mr. Trainor said the port might use an agent, a new operating company, or the MPA itself to take over direct operations.
He also said the port might start with the Seagirt Marine Terminal, a new facility whose opening has been delayed.
"We want to run all of the port with ILA workers," he asserted.
Even if there is a new agreement between employers and the ILA, "If it costs a lot of money the governor will cut it off, that's obvious," said Mr. Trainor.
He continued that the whole idea of Seagirt is for "major lines, it's laid out to be efficient.
Representatives of the union and the Steamship Trade Association could not be reached for comment Monday.