International Longshoremen’s Association leader Harold Daggett said ILA members are disappointed in a judge’s refusal to block Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor changes in hiring practices, but that union members won’t halt work in protest.
The ILA president spoke in a telephone interview after a federal judge refused to grant a ILA-employer request for a preliminary injunction to block the Waterfront Commission from applying new rules to restrict union referrals of candidates for ILA mechanics’ jobs at the Port of New York and New Jersey.
Daggett said ILA members are “at the boiling point” over the commission’s changes to hiring procedures. However, he emphasized that he has urged members to refrain from slowdowns or other protests that would disrupt work at the East Coast’s busiest port.
“We’re 100 percent together with the employers on this issue. I want to make that crystal clear,” he said. “We’re partners in this. We’re going to join the employers in fighting the Waterfront Commission in court, no matter how long it takes. I’m telling our members to stay on the job and keep working.”
Daggett urged New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to get involved in the port industry’s dispute with the Waterfront Commission over hiring of dockworkers in the Port of New York and New Jersey.
“Most of the jobs in the port are in New Jersey. The port is an economic engine for the entire region. The governor needs to step up on this,” Daggett said.
The ILA, the New York Shipping Association and the Metropolitan Marine Maintenance Contractors Association have filed a lawsuit accusing the commission of overstepping its authority by imposing hiring rules that conflict with those in newly signed union-employer contracts.
The preliminary injunction the ILA and employers unsuccessfully sought would have prevented the commission from imposing new rules on hiring mechanics until there’s a decision on the lawsuit. U.S. District Judge Susan Wigenton said she will rule next month on the Waterfront Commission’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
“We have a new contract that labor and management negotiated, and the Waterfront Commission is screwing it up,” Daggett said. “They have no right to get involved in collective bargaining”
The commission says its mandate to ensure fair and nondiscriminatory hiring trumps provisions in collective bargaining agreements between the ILA and the NYSA and Metro association.
Most of the mechanics who would have been affected by the preliminary injunction are in Local 1804-1, which Daggett headed for two decades before he was succeeded by his son Dennis.
Harold Daggett said the commission’s changes in hiring practices are aimed primarily at Local 1804-1. He denied that the local or the ILA have engaged in discriminatory hiring practices.