The Port of Virginia plans to halt work for four hours June 12 for a meeting to allow employers to make their case for gradually reducing the size of some container-handling gangs in the local International Longshoremen’s Association contract.
Although the union’s East and Gulf coast master contract is in effect, supplemental local agreements remain unsettled in Virginia, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Charleston and Mobile. ILA members in Virginia rejected their local contract April 25.
The main obstacle in the Virginia talks involves the size of labor gangs hired by Virginia International Terminals, the operating company of the Virginia Port Authority.
At the June 12 meeting, employers will explain their proposal to gradually reduce gang sizes, which now include three extra crane operators at Norfolk International Terminals under an agreement that followed the introduction of new equipment.
"We feel it's important to educate them on what the contract really means," Roger Giesinger, president and chief negotiator of the Hampton Roads Shipping Association, told the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot.
The employers’ association is sponsoring the event in conjunction with top local leaders of the International Longshoremen's Association.
There's no risk of a strike or a lockout at this point, Giesinger told the Virginian-Pilot. He added that the plan is to resume negotiations with local labor leaders about five days after the June 12 session.
Union officials have requested federal mediation, he said.