For the second time in four months, International Longshoremen’s Association members in Hampton Roads have rejected a local contract covering gang sizes and other issues.
Work at port terminals is expected to continue normally despite the 520-483 vote against the contract. Virginia dockworkers rejected an earlier agreement April 25 on a vote of 1,143-69.
The "next course of action is yet to be determined," Larry Bachtell, president of ILA Local 1624, wrote in a text message Monday night, the Virginian-Pilot reported.
"We've never been here before," Roger Giesinger, president and chief negotiator of the Hampton Roads Shipping Association, which represents port employers, told the newspaper. “Based on the master contract, they cannot strike; management will go back to the table if the ILA wants to."
Virginia is one of several ports where negotiations on local contracts continued after the April ratification of the ILA’s coastwide master contract.
It is not unusual for some local contracts to remain open long after the coastwide contract is settled. Besides Virginia, local contracts are still under discussion at Baltimore and Philadelphia.
The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service is working with the ILA and employers in Virginia and Baltimore. A local mediator is involved in the Philadelphia talks.
The master contract covers wages for containerized and roll-on, roll-off cargo, along with the coastwide medical program, container royalties, and other issues. Supplementary local contracts cover port-specific issues such as work rules, pensions, and breakbulk pay scales.
The master contract covers 14,500 dockworkers at 14 East and Gulf coast ports, including about 1,650 in Virginia.