Three days of negotiations between the International Longshoremen's Association and their employers ended on Wednesday without a labor agreement to replace the one that expires on Dec. 29.
The union said talks aimed a working out a new master contract with employers, represented by the U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX), will resume next week on Dec. 18 in Newark, N.J., with the discussion focusing on container royalties, an assessment based on the weight of containerized cargo that amounted to a collective $211 million in 2011.
In a statement posted on its Facebook page
, the ILA said "USMX is looking to return to a
CAP on Container Royalty reducing the amount of money ILA members
receive as a wage supplement. The ILA countered that the CAP was
lifted by USMX as part of the agreement that brought about the current
three-year contract that expires on Dec. 29th, 2012. ILA President
Harold Daggett has vowed to keep the CAP unchanged to allow members to
receive maximum container royalty payments."
The ILA said talks next week will involve a small negotiating team. This week the ILA had 200 wage-scale delegates come to Delray Beach, Fla. On Monday, those delegates authorized the ILA president to call a strike if the two sides are unable to come to agreement.
USMX did not respond to a request for a comment on Wednesday, but said it wants to cap royalty payments "and use the excess, not as savings for employers but to help pay for other benefits for ILA workers."
It said "Container royalties have morphed from an assessment imposed through arbitration in 1960 to what they are today – another form of compensation for ILA workers, who are among the nation’s most highly compensated. The vast majority of ILA workers were not alive when containerization was introduced in New York in the late 1950s. In fact, only 136 of the 3,281 ILA workers at the Port of New York and New Jersey today were working at the port in 1968, the year container royalties were first distributed." - Chris Dupin