The tentative coastwide master contract for International Longshoremen’s Association members includes pay raises, a compromise on carrier-paid container royalties, and continued free medical coverage for ILA members.
The ILA released details of the agreement as union officials began holding local meetings along the East and Gulf coasts to explain the six-year contract to members. The ILA’s 200-member wage scale committee will meet March 12-14 to vote on whether to recommend it for rank-and-file ratification.
The tentative coastwide agreement, reached Feb. 1 with United States Maritime Alliance, will not take effect until bargaining is concluded on supplemental local contracts covering work rules, pensions and other port-specific issues.
Several local contracts have been completed, but the crucial one for the Port of New York and New Jersey remains unsettled. The New York Shipping Association, a USMX member, is seeking work-rule changes to bring costs closer to those of competing ports.
The ILA-USMX master contract provides $1-an-hour raises in the contract’s second, fourth and sixth years. Starting pay remains $20 an hour, but the contract allows new hires to advance to top scale, currently $32 an hour, in six years instead of the previous nine.
A key sticking point in the negotiations was container royalties, a program established in the 1960s to compensate workers for the loss of jobs to automation. Carriers’ royalty payments are based on cargo weight, and support annual payouts to workers.
The ILA and USMX agreed to guarantee annual royalty payments at the $211 million level of 2011, and to divide royalties over that level.
That represented a compromise between USMX, which had sought to cap royalty payments and phase them out over 25 years, the ILA, which opposed any caps or other changes.
Other contract provisions include continued free medical coverage to workers, which USMX had not sought to change, and new language to protect workers displaced by automation and preserve ILA jurisdiction over container repairs and other work.
The contract provides an additional $1-an-hour contribution by employers for local fringe benefits, including pension plans that are underfunded in several ports.
The master contract says workers in New York-New Jersey will be randomly drug tested only if the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor agrees to stop testing ILA members.