The International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) and U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX) say they will continue master contract negotiations in Delray Beach, Fla. on Aug. 22-24.
Small committees from both sides will continue work on a pact to replace the contract that expires on Sept. 30.
James McNamara, the ILA's director of public relations, said the union remains optimistic about reaching an agreement following last month’s agreement between the union and management on issues involving the introduction of new technology and automation at marine terminals and maintenance and repair of chassis within marine terminals and at off-pier facilities at East and Gulf coast ports.
He said ILA president Harold J. Daggett was “very encouraged we got a hold on the automation and chassis issues—it was a major accomplishment.”
Last month the ILA and USMX asked union locals and port organizations to begin negotiations on issues specific to their ports. The New York Shipping Association and ILA locals have tentatively agreed to begin meeting Aug. 28-29 in Newark, N.J., McNamara said.
The New York talks could be particularly challenging, as hiring practices in New York and New Jersey were strongly criticized by the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor in a report
released in March.
That report claimed hearings held in 2010 “demonstrated and publicized that certain hiring practices, achieved primarily through calculated provisions of collective bargaining agreements, illogical interpretations of other provisions, and claims of 'custom and practice,' have created within the port no/low-work, no/low-show positions generally characterized by outsized salaries.”
The report also claimed “the privileged few that are given those jobs are overwhelmingly connected to organized crime figures or union leadership.”
Both the ILA and NYSA have long been critical of the Waterfront Commission, but NYSA President Joe Curto
said after the report was released that excessive staffing and overtime payments highlighted in the report “can no longer be sustained or rationalized. These practices, many of which have been in place for more than 50 years, have made the port unnecessarily expensive and less competitive."
But he said NYSA would "address these issues during labor negotiations as part of a smart business plan; not because the Waterfront Commission thinks we should.”
, executive director for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, also spoke out about the alleged “low-show” jobs at shipping terminals this spring, saying "low-show jobs where certain selected members are paid 24-7 for a few hours of work have to be addressed.”
George Daggett, a cousin of the ILA president and attorney, said last year the Waterfront Commission is dedicated to “perpetuating the stigma of organized crime” and New York-New Jersey longshoremen live in a “police state." He noted the union has taken steps to rid itself of mob influence including adoption of a code of ethics in 2004 and appointment of ethical practices counsels. - Chris Dupin