Negotiations are resuming this week at East and Gulf Coast ports on local agreements that supplement the coastwide master contract between the International Longshoremen’s Association and its employers.
The ILA and United States Maritime Alliance tentatively agreed Friday night on a six-year master contract. The deal averted a threatened Maine-to-Texas strike following the current contract’s expiration at midnight Wednesday.
The ILA-USMX coastwide agreement is contingent on negotiation of local contracts covering work rules and other port-specific issues, and on ratification by both sides.
The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, which announced the tentative agreement, said ports would remain open while local bargaining continues.
No details were released on the tentative agreement, or the schedule for the local negotiations. However, bargaining sessions are planned for this week in several ports, and are expected to continue through most or all of February.
The most crucial local contract is the one for the Port of New York and New Jersey, home to 3,250 of the 14,500 ILA workers covered by the coastwide agreement. The New York Shipping Association is seeking changes in decades-old work rules that require high staffing levels and other costly practices at the East Coast’s largest port.
ILA and NYSA negotiators discussed New York-New Jersey issues last week during four days of meetings between the union and USMX on the coastwide contract. Federal mediators will continue to oversee the New York-New Jersey bargaining.
ILA President Harold Daggett said in a statement the union had negotiated a satisfactory package for the coastwide agreement and will turn its “full attention” to the local negotiations.
In a statement Monday, NYSA President Joseph Curto praised USMX and ILA negotiators for their tentative agreement on the master contract. “On the local level, there are a number of complex issues that the parties will be addressing,” Curto added. “The good news is that bargaining is continuing and the day-to-day work in the port's facilities will go on without disruption."