International Longshoremen’s Association President Harold Daggett says the annual checks ILA members receive from carrier-paid container royalties are “wage supplements,” not bonuses.
No matter what they’re called, royalties represent a large part of ILA members’ compensation and a big expense for carriers.
Royalties were established in 1960 to cushion ILA members from the loss of jobs to containerization. Carriers paid $211 million into the funds last year. Most of the money was used to provide ILA members with year-end checks that averaged $15,500 last year.
ILA members’ royalty checks vary by port. They are calculated on a formula reflecting each port’s growth in container tonnage over a base established years ago. Each port’s monetary pool is divided among eligible workers.
Workers’ checks ranged from a few thousand dollars in ports such as New Orleans and Jacksonville to $36,000 last year in Savannah, where containerized volume has soared and the presence of non-union state dockworkers means fewer ILA workers divide the available money.
United States Maritime Alliance isn’t seeking to eliminate or reduce workers’ royalty checks, but wants to cap them at current levels and use the extra money to help fund ILA workers’ benefits.
Carriers’ royalty costs have soared since a 2009 contract extension that lifted annual caps on what carriers pay into the program. Coupled with growth in cargo volume, elimination of caps on carriers’ per-ton payments provided the ILA with about $75 million in extra royalties last year.