The Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor has authorized New York-New Jersey port employers to hire 150 additional longshoremen.
The newly authorized group is in addition to 150 longshoremen and 75 checker positions the commission previously approved as part of a multiphase hiring program.
The New York Shipping Association and the International Longshoremen’s Association have requested a total of 682 new hires — 532 longshoremen and 150 checkers. The commission is approving the new hires in phases.
The Waterfront Commission said in December that the hiring of all 532 longshoremen and an unspecified number of additional checkers would be “appropriate.”
Most of the new hires would fill existing vacancies that have been blamed for delays at the port and would replace about 300 workers who had been set to retire April 1 under the NYSA-ILA contract that was signed last year.
Some of the scheduled April 1 retirees have agreed to postpone their departures for up to six months.
The six-year contract that the NYSA and ILA signed last year specifies that 51 percent of new hires will be military veterans, 25 percent ILA referrals and 24 percent NYSA referrals.
Hiring of new workers at the port has been slowed by months of commission-industry disputes over the commission’s certification requirements and insistence that veterans receive their full allotment of jobs in each group of new hires.
Last September the commission issued new hiring rules it said were aimed at increasing workforce diversity. The NYSA says more than one-third of the port’s current workforce is African-American or Hispanic.
In November the NYSA and ILA filed a federal lawsuit accusing the commission of illegally interfering with their contract’s hiring process. A court ruling is pending on the commission’s motion to dismiss the suit.
Meanwhile, hiring is continuing under a process in which veterans organizations, the ILA and the NYSA refer candidates for background checks by the commission, vetting and sponsorship by employers, and licensing by the commission.
The number of new hires is inching higher almost daily. The latest update on the NYSA website shows 137 workers had been hired as of March 24, with several hundred others in the pipeline.