The International Longshoremen’s Association said Friday it has received “expressions of support and vows of solidarity from other unions across the country and around the world,” following last week’s breakdown in contract talks
The ILA and employers represented by the U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX) have been working to replace a master contract for longshore workers at East and Gulf coast ports that expires Sept. 30.
The union said it received support from the West Coast longshore union, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and its president, Bob McEllrath, as well as the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF).
The ILA said its president, Harold Daggett, expects to meet with Paddy Crumlin, president of the ITF and head of the Maritime Union of Australia in September and with McEllrath and Ray Familathe, vice president of the ILWU.
Talks had been scheduled for this week between the ILA and members of the New York Shipping Association to discuss local contract issues. But those talks were called off following the breakdown in ILA/USMX negotiations.
Meanwhile, on the West Coast, the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association said Friday it plans to resume bargaining with Local 63, Office Clerical Union (OCU) of the ILWU, today following a two-week hiatus. The local doesn't represent dockworkers handling cargo, but clerical workers at shipping agencies and terminal operators in Southern California.
OCU members have been working without a contract since June 2010.
Those renewed talks have been conducted under a press blackout.
The talks have made some shippers nervous, because West Coast ports are viewed as a possible alternative gateway if an ILA/USMX impasse closes East and Gulf coast ports.
With contracts being negotiated on both coasts, there are concerns simultaneous ILA/ILWU strikes could disrupt ports throughout the country.
OCU members have struck employers three times - once for nine days and twice for a day, most recently in November 2011, but those work stoppages had limited impact on port operations. That’s because an area arbitrator said while OCU workers could strike, other ILWU members who actually handle cargo could not honor those picket lines without violating their own contract. However, the ruling was appealed and this April an arbitrator held that other ILWU workers could honor an OCU picket line. - Chris Dupin