International Longshoremen’s Association President Harold Daggett defended the ILA’s negotiating positions and urged management to resume negotiations when the union’s wage scale committee meets later this month.
Daggett posted a letter on the ILA’s Web site reacting to a statement by James Capo, chairman and CEO of United States Maritime Alliance, who said Daggett was unwilling to negotiate “unless management first agrees to his demands.”
Capo’s statement last week was in response to Daggett’s earlier statement that negotiations were stalled and that USMX was unwilling to accept union demands for job guarantees in exchange for acceptance of automation at marine terminals.
Daggett accused Capo of “personal attacks” and called it “a thinly veiled attempt to try to turn the ILA wage scale delegates against me.”
The exchanges underscore the deep divisions between the ILA and USMX on a contract to replace the one expiring Sept. 30 for dockworkers at East and Gulf Coast ports. Many shippers are watching the negotiations closely and say they may start diverting cargo to the West Coast or Canada if the talks don’t show progress soon.
The ILA and USMX haven’t held formal negotiations since an exchange of initial proposals in late March. Daggett urged the USMX to resume negotiations when the ILA’s 200-member wage scale committee meets on June 27-29 in Delray Beach, Fla.
Daggett said the ILA’s goal is “to protect the ILA’s members and their families from the impact of new technology.” He said he is concerned “that USMX wants to effectively eliminate the work force through automation.”
USMX has said terminals must update technology to achieve the productivity needed to increase cargo volume and work for ILA members.
Daggett said the ILA’s current technology provisions must be strengthened, “especially if USMX wants the ILA to agree to a multiyear contract.” When negotiations opened in late March, the USMX suggested a six-year contract.
The ILA president also commented on union demands for on-dock weighing of containers and for ILA jurisdiction over maintenance and repair of chassis supplied by third-party pool operators.
Daggett said the ILA wants to weigh import containers at piers to improve safety and ensure that union benefit funds aren’t shortchanged on per-ton container royalties.
Capo said weighing containers on dock would increase congestion and delays and reduce productivity. “That may be true,” Daggett said, “but it would also assure that the ILA funds are not shortchanged monies, and (it) may help save lives on the highways.”
Daggett is pushing to bring chassis pool operators under the ILA’s coastwide master contract. “The ILA’s concern is that carriers will sell their chassis and the ILA will lose that bargaining work,” he said.
Capo notes that major pool operators have pledged to continue to use ILA labor and respect union jurisdiction. He also has said USMX has no legal right to require chassis pool operators to join USMX and become parties to the ILA master contract.
Discover supply chain analysis tips for doing business and building lead gen with JOC—that you can start using today—when you download JOC Insights for FREE right now.