The International Longshoremen’s Association and United States Maritime Alliance have resumed negotiations on a contract covering 14,500 East and Gulf Coast dockworkers.
ILA President Harold Daggett and USMX Chairman/CEO James Capo presented proposals Wednesday that were similar to initial ones they exchanged in late March. Capo answered questions from the ILA’s 200-member wage scale committee, meeting in Delray Beach, Fla. Additional meetings were scheduled Thursday.
The ILA repeated its key demands, with an emphasis on job guarantees in exchange for automation and on the union’s desire to bring intermodal chassis lessors under the ILA-USMX coastwide master contract.
ILA wage scale delegates, representing union locals from throughout the East and Gulf coasts, gave Daggett “a unanimous standing ovation” Wednesday morning when he asked them if they supported his demands on automation and chassis, ILA spokesman James McNamara said.
USMX says port terminals need labor-saving technology to handle increased cargo volume needed to support ILA jobs and benefits, and that USMX can’t require chassis lessors to join the management group and sign the master contract.
Daggett says ILA jobs are threatened by automation and ocean carriers’ transfer of chassis to leasing companies. Lessors have pledged to continue to hire ILA labor and respect the union’s jurisdiction where it exists, but Daggett wants them tied to the coastwide contract.
The current ILA contract expires Sept. 30, but many shippers say they plan to activate contingency plans during the next few weeks if negotiations don’t show progress. The ILA hasn’t had a coastwide strike since 1977.