The International Longshoremen’s Association and management should consider separate contracts for short-sea shipping and proprietary cargo such as bananas, management’s chief negotiator told the ILA’s quadrennial convention.
James Capo, chairman and CEO of United States Maritime Alliance, said those industry segments have specific issues that might be best addressed by contracts separate from the ILA-USMX coastwide master contract.
The ILA has been embroiled in a bitter dispute with Fresh Del Monte, which last year shifted its Philadelphia-area fruit imports to a non-ILA terminal.
Carriers in the New York Shipping Association have sued the ILA and several locals for $6 million in damages the companies say resulted when New York-New Jersey dockworkers stopped work for two days last Septembe. The New York-New Jersey dockworks expressed solidarity with picketing Philadelphia dockworkers who were protesting their loss of Del Monte’s business.
Capo said Chiquita and Dole, whose proprietary shipments of containerized banana imports are covered by the master contract, want concessions to compete with Del Monte.
“Bananas is a cutthroat, competitive business,” he said. “My understanding is that Chiquita and Dole also wanted consideration, which I think is going to happen.”
Capo also suggested that coastwise and short-sea shipping services also might be best handled in a separate labor agreement. Port handling costs have been described as a major impediment to development of coastwise services.
He said issues in the next master contract talks should include eliminating work rules that pay people who aren’t on the job, and tighter drug testing and improved safety. The ILA said 12 Atlantic and Gulf dockworkers have been killed on the job since the last union convention four years ago.
-- Contact Joseph Bonney at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @josephbonney