At the last International Longshoremen's Association convention in 2003, ILA dissidents offered a fistful of proposals calling for direct election of delegates, increased emphasis on organizing, and expanded commitment to openness and union democracy. None of the resolutions made it out of committee.
The dissidents will try again when ILA delegates gather for the union's quadrennial convention this month in Hollywood, Fla.
"Anyone who's going to be on the resolutions committee shouldn't bring sunscreen to Florida because they're going to be spending a lot of time inside," said Kenneth Riley, president of Local 1422 in Charleston.
Riley is promoting a resolution that would divide the union's South Atlantic and Gulf District by creating a new district extending from North Carolina to Florida. That happens to be the region where support is strongest for the Longshore Workers Coalition, an intraunion reform group. Riley, however, said he's pushing for the new district because the South Atlantic is underrepresented at the ILA's top level. The resolution is considered unlikely to pass, but Riley said he'll push hard for it.
Riley also said he plans to challenge John Baker of Cleveland, who for years has been the ILA's top officer in the Great Lakes, for the post of assistant general organizer. That position, one of top six offices in the ILA hierarchy, will become open when Harold Daggett Jr. becomes executive vice president. Riley said he has no grudge against Baker, but believes the South Atlantic needs more representation, especially with a new contract scheduled to be negotiated within the next four years.
His brother, Leonard Riley Jr., co-chairman of the Longshore Workers Coalition, said LWC members would fight to bring union democracy resolutions before the entire convention.