Curto Sees Signs of 'Different' ILA

Curto Sees Signs of 'Different' ILA

Last month's two-day work stoppage at the Port of New York and New Jersey may be a sign of increased militancy by the International Longshoremen's Association, the president of the New York Shipping Association said.

"I think what we are seeing is what may be a different type of ILA," NYSA President Joseph Curto said at the annual New York-New Jersey Port Industry Day. "We've had excellent relations with the ILA in the past. There may be some changes in leadership and there may be some changes in direction occurring."

The port was closed Sept. 28-29 when New York-New Jersey dockworkers refused to cross picket lines of Philadelphia ILA members protesting Del Monte's shift of cargo to a non-ILA terminal in their port.

Video: ILA Worker Discusses Dock Work Stoppage

The NYSA secured an arbitrator's ruling that the work stoppage was illegal and a temporary restraining order against the union. ILA members returned to work when the NYSA was headed to court to seek an injunction.

Curto said he doesn't expect the Philadelphia dispute to lead to additional disruptions in New York-New Jersey "I could be wrong about that, but that's my sense," he said.

He cautioned, however, that changes within the ILA could affect future labor relations. "We need to watch what's happening there and adjust our strategy somewhat also," he said. "I think we'll be entering a new ballgame here as time goes on."

Harold Daggett, the ILA's international vice president and longtime head of the union's big New York-New Jersey maintenance local, is viewed as the likely successor to the union's current president, Richard Hughes, at the union's convention next July. Hughes has not said whether he will seek a second term.

Daggett has called for a tough line by the ILA on work jurisdiction, technology and other issues. He criticized Hughes' negotiating strategy early in last year's talks on a contract extension before agreeing to support the deal.

The current coastwide master contract expires Sept. 30, 2012 but negotiations on a new agreement are expected to begin sometime next year. The ILA hasn't had a Maine-to-Texas strike in more than 30 years.

-- Contact Joseph Bonney at jbonney@joc.com.