Representatives of the International Longshoremen’s Association and its East and Gulf Coast employers are meeting in Tampa this week to exchange initial proposals for a contract to replace the one that expires in six months.
Cargo interests are watching the negotiations closely. Some large shippers have asked carriers to bid on alternate routings, and have said they are ready to divert some cargo to the West Coast by mid-summer if the ILA negotiations don’t show progress.
The current coastwide master contract between the ILA and United States Maritime Alliance expires Sept. 30.
ILA President Harold Daggett told an audience at The Journal of Commerce’s Trans-Pacific Maritime Conference this month in Long Beach that the union would seek to avoid a work stoppage, but that automation, jurisdiction, chassis and overweight containers were potential strike issues.
Other ILA officials have said they’re confident the two sides will be able to negotiate a disruption-free contract settlement. The ILA hasn’t had a coastwide strike in 35 years.
This week’s meetings in Tampa represent the first cut at negotiating a new contract. The ILA and USMX will exchange views and proposals in meetings attended by the union’s wage scale committee, which is composed of about 200 delegates from local unions.
The exchange of initial proposals will be followed by additional rounds of negotiations between representatives of the ILA and USMX.