International Longshoremen’s Association President Harold Daggett won authorization from ILA delegates to call a strike if a bargaining impasse isn’t settled before the union’s contract expires Dec. 29.
The vote by the ILA’s 200-member wage scale committee moves East and Gulf coast ports closer to their first coastwide strike in 35 years.
Daggett asked the ILA’s 200-member wage scale committee for strike authorization after he delivered a speech accusing United States Maritime Alliance of trying to reverse gains the ILA has made in previous contracts.
The roll call vote in favor of the strike authorization was unanimous, ILA spokesman James McNamara said.
The vote preceded a session today in which employer representatives presented USMX’s proposals to wage scale committee members meeting in Delray Beach, Fla.
Daggett’s speech to ILA delegates reportedly emphasized USMX’s proposal to cap container royalty payments to workers. USMX has proposed capping payments at current levels, which averaged $15,500 per eligible worker last year, and using the excess to fund other ILA benefits.
An ILA strike would affect container and roll-on, roll-off cargo covered by the ILA-USMX coastwide master contract. The ILA would continue to work breakbulk cargo and cruise lines that employ ILA labor but are not covered by the master contract, McNamara said.
The ILA also would continue to work perishables such as bananas, as well as military ships. However, reefer and military shipments would be affected if those shipments are booked on ships of major container
lines that are signatories to the ILA-USMX master contract.
In addition to issues in the coastwide master contract, this year’s negotiations over supplementary local contracts have been contentious, especially in the Port of New York and New Jersey, where the New York Shipping Association is seeking changes in work rules, including requirements for extensive relief staffing.
Editor's Note: The current version of this story corrects references to military and perishables cargo.