International Longshoremen’s Association President Harold Daggett announced plans for the union’s affiliation with a global dockworkers’ organization that previous ILA regimes kept at arm’s length.
The ILA’s affiliation with the International Dockworkers Council underscores Daggett’s desire to cooperate with other longshore unions in the U.S. and overseas, and to unify the ILA’s various factions.
Although the ILA remains in the more traditional International Transport Workers Federation, Daggett said affiliation with the IDC will help the ILA “build strong solidarity with waterfront workers in the United States and around the world.”
The International Transport Workers Federation includes transport-related unions of all types. The IDC is a dockworker-only organization that describes itself as a “unitary, independent, democratic assembly-based working-class organization.”
Several U.S. and Canadian ILA locals are longtime IDC affiliates. Kenneth Riley, president of Local 1422 in Charleston, S.C., and an ILA international vice president, is coordinator of the IDC’s North America East Coast zone. Riley affiliated his local with the IDC 12 years ago, after the IDC supported the “Charleston Five” dockworkers charged with felonies after protesting nonunion labor at the port in 2000. The charges later were dismissed
Riley is a founding member of the Longshore Workers Coalition, an ILA activist group that has demanded more union democracy and often was at odds with longtime ILA President John Bowers.
Other early ILA affiliates of the global IDC include Local 1414 in Savannah, and Local 1526 in Port Everglades, Fla., headed by Darryl Payne, a Longshore Workers Coalition leader.
Daggett agreed to the ILA’s affiliation with the International Dockworkers Council after he, Riley and Dennis Daggett, president of the ILA’s Atlantic Coast District, met with IDC officials in New York in mid-July.
The affiliation wasn’t universally popular within the ILA. Several top ILA officials remain wary about the IDC, largely because of its identification with the Longshore Workers Coalition.
But since becoming union president last year, Daggett has sought to unify the ILA. As part of that effort, he has developed good relations with coalition members, even though he doesn’t necessarily agree with all of their positions. LWC members, meanwhile, have applauded his aggressiveness in negotiations.