A Baltimore jury will hear dueling assault complaints stemming from a fight between two International Longshoremen’s Association officials whose local union is in a contract negotiations standoff with port employers.
Local 333 President Riker “Rocky” McKenzie and Daryl Wilburn, who was recently ousted as the local’s secretary-treasurer, filed assault complaints against each other after their early-November altercation at the union hall.
The two men appeared in court Tuesday. A judge approved the requests by the two men’s attorneys for a jury trial next month in Baltimore Circuit Court.
The feud between McKenzie and Wilburn was cited by an ILA headquarters committee that has ordered an independent audit of Local 333’s finances and is considering whether to place the local under a union-appointed trustee.
“A local union cannot function properly if these two officers do not have a civil, professional relationship, and it cannot be disputed that McKenzie and Wilburn lacked such a relationship, to the detriment of their local,” the committee wrote in a February report on its findings, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The intra-union feud comes as Local 333 remains deadlocked with the Steamship Trade Association of Baltimore over a local contract covering breakbulk and automobile cargo, work rules, and other port-specific issues.
Local 333 engaged last October in a three-day strike that halted work at the port’s public terminals, including containerized cargo covered by the ILA’s coastwide master contract. An arbitrator later ruled that the local had violated the master contract’s no-strike clause, and awarded employers more than $3.8 million.
The arbitrator’s award has emerged as a stumbling block in negotiations on the local contract. Local 333 voted down the employers’ “best and final” offer in February after Dennis Daggett, president of the ILA’s Atlantic Coast District, said a “no” vote would strengthen the union’s hand in negotiating a reduction of its liability.
The ILA is insisting that the $3.8 million arbitrator’s award be lifted before negotiations resume. The Steamship Trade Association has said its final offer is already on the table