TUG STRIKE SLOWS SOME NEW YORK TRAFFIC

TUG STRIKE SLOWS SOME NEW YORK TRAFFIC

Some slowdown in containership and large tanker traffic was reported in the New York harbor area on the third day of the tugboat strike.

Meanwhile, police confiscated a pipe bomb from one of the strikers in Staten Island and arrested the man, said police officers. They also said five or six gunshots were fired at a tugboat operated by Turecamo Coastal & Harbor Towing Corp. About 64 officers were assigned to picketing sites in Staten Island on Thursday, police said.The strike, however, has had only minor impact on ship movements, say port officials and sources at tug companies who declined to be identified.

More than 2,000 members of Local 333, the tugboat arm of the International Longshoremen's Association, went on strike Tuesday against about 10 companies that operate tugs, small tankers and barges.

Some management sources say no bargaining talks have been scheduled between union and management. Union officials couldn't be reached for comment.

Employers have kept tugs running with non-striking union members and non- union tug workers brought in from other ports.

Derwood Hall, general manager of marine operations for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said the strike has meant little trouble or cancellations or diversions. In general, it has had little impact on general cargo vessels or container operators, he said.

Oil terminal operators, however, say the strike is beginning to disrupt barge deliveries at oil terminals in the metropolitan area.

Overall, vessel traffic was down only slightly from usual levels in the New York harbor, said Kenneth Prime of the Coast Guard. However, oceangoing vessel traffic was off by 30 percent to 40 percent Thursday. He expected that figure would improve on Friday.

These deep-draft vessels require docking pilots who bring the deep-draft ships to their berths.

The tugboat companies want to cut the size of the crews from six to four and impose 40 percent wage cuts that were unacceptable to the union, according to Albert Cornette, Local 333 president.

The companies won their terms over the union in similar strikes in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Hampton Roads, Va. In those ports, the tug operators and the Seafarers International Union failed to reach terms on a new contract. The union members were fired from their jobs when they failed to return to work on company orders.

Both McAllister Bros. and Moran Towing and Transportation Co. say they now operate tugs in the other harbors at about a fourth of the $2,000 a day it takes to keep a boat going in New York harbor.