Representatives of the ILA and United States Maritime Alliance met in small committees Tuesday to discuss and refine the two sides’ proposals in federally mediated talks, in an effort to avoid a threatened strike when the union’s contract expires Dec. 29.
Negotiators wouldn’t divulge details.
The 200-member wage scale committee of the International Longshoremen’s Association, meeting in Delray Beach, Fla., on Monday approved ILA President Harold Daggett’s request for authority to call a strike if there’s no agreement by Dec. 29. The contract, originally set to expire Sept. 30, has been extended once, for 90 days.
Top issues in the coastwide negotiations include carrier-paid container royalties and work rules that drive up employer costs.
USMX has proposed capping payouts to workers from container royalties at current levels, which averaged $15,500 last year, and using the excess to fund other ILA benefits. USMX also has proposed eliminating royalties for future hires.
Daggett has said the ILA would not accept an end to caps on royalties, a program established in the 1960s to cushion union members from job losses resulting from containerization.
The ILA and USMX also are at odds over work-rule changes. USMX has proposed revising the master contract to provide more flexibility to allow the union and employers to negotiate changes in supplementary local contracts. Those proposed changes would include synchronizing work shifts and curbing payment for hours in which no work is done.
If there is a strike, it would be the ILA’s first coastwide walkout in 35 years, and would affect container and roll-on, roll-off cargo from Maine to Texas. The ILA would continue to work breakbulk cargo, which is covered by supplementary local contracts and is not part of the coastwide master contract.
Clarification: A previous version of this story stated the ILA would continue to load and unload perishables and military cargo. Those cargoes also would be affected if they move on container ships operated by carriers whose ships are idled by a strike.