International Longshoremen's Association delegates who rejected a two-year contract extension for Atlantic and Gulf dockworkers three weeks ago will revisit the issue next week at a special meeting in Orlando.
ILA President Richard Hughes called for the union's 200-member wage scale committee to meet with management representatives Sept. 28-29. ILA gave no details about the meeting, but its purpose is expected to be a new effort to win an extension of the union's existing coastwide contract, which expires Sept. 30, 2010.
After wage-scale delegates rejected a two-year extension Sept. 2, the expectation was that contract talks wouldn't resume until early next year.
The wage scale committee's decision to reject the contract was considered a blow to Hughes, who had said for months that he hoped an agreement could be reached in advance of next fall's expiration to prevent shippers from diverting cargo.
Opponents of the extension had demanded that any extension include contract language restricting management's ability to expand the use of computer-based technology. Opponents also objected to management's proposal to delay a pay raise scheduled for Oct. 1, the start of the last year of the current six-year agreement.
James Capo, chairman and CEO of United States Maritime Alliance, the employers' negotiating group, said management would not yield to ILA demands to restrict the introduction of new technology. He said Atlantic and Gulf ports must use technology to improve productivity to attract cargo to fund ILA pay and benefits.
USMX had proposed delaying the Oct.1 raise by one year as part of a plan to immediately raise the contract's $16-an-hour starting pay by $4, and to narrow the gap between ILA wage tiers by sharply raising pay of workers in lower tiers.
Additional funds would have come from eliminating a cap on container royalties that carriers have paid since the 1960s to offset the impact of mechanization, by shifting excess royalty money from overfunded medical and other programs, and by increasing carriers' payments to the funds.
The increases proposed under the extension would have closed 25 to 100 percent of the gap between the ILA's top and lower wage tiers. USMX said this month that under the proposed extension, 85 percent of ILA workers would be at the $32-an-hour top scale by the end of the two-year extension.
Contact Joseph Bonney at firstname.lastname@example.org.