Waterfront employers’ refusal to guarantee jobs in exchange for automation at East and Gulf Coast ports remains a serious “hurdle” to negotiation of a new International Longshoremen’s Association contract, ILA President Harold Daggett said.
“Automation means ‘take away your jobs.’ The companies say they’re going to have new jobs for you, but that’s bull___,” Daggett said to thunderous applause at the 35th convention of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in Coronado, Calif.
The ILA will sign a new contract only if it protects ILA jobs, Daggett said. “I want manning requirements,” he said.
The ILWU invited Daggett to be a guest speaker, a courtesy the ILA offered to ILWU President Bob McEllrath at its conventions.
The ILA is embroiled in tense negotiations with United States Maritime Alliance on a contract to replace the current one that expires Sept. 30.
The ILA and USMX have not had formal negotiations since an initial exchange of general proposals in late March. They are scheduled to meet again June 27-29 when the ILA’s 200-member wage scale committee meets in Delray Beach, Fla.
Daggett said automation is the most critical issue in the negotiations. He recalled his visit to the Port of Rotterdam more than 20 years ago and said he was appalled to see automated guided vehicles and automated stacking cranes moving containers throughout the terminal, but no longshoremen or checkers in sight.
“We cannot allow that to happen. I will fight it,” Daggett said.
He reiterated the ILA’s other key demands — bringing chassis pool operators under ILA contract, on-dock weighing of import containers to improve safety and prevent the ILA from being shortchanged on tonnage-based container royalties, and protection of ILA jurisdiction.
He said the ILA is concerned about loss of work opportunities to other unions and non-union employers. McEllrath told the ILA convention last summer that both longshore unions face encroachment by other unions on their traditional waterfront jurisdictions.