The U.S. Maritime Alliance, which represents shipping companies, terminals, and maritime associations in negotiations with longshoremen working at ports along the U.S. and Gulf coasts, confirmed the carrier members of the group's bargaining committee and a committee from the International Longshoremen's Association will meet this week to discuss proposals having to do with container royalty payments.
In a statement issued Friday, USMX said
"Members of the USMX Bargaining Committee met with ILA Wage Scale Delegates on December 10, 2012, and presented a comprehensive proposal for a new contract. Although the proposal was quickly rejected by the Wage Scale delegates and a strike vote was taken, other small committees met during the week. At one of the small committee meetings, the ILA presented a counterproposal, which was taken under advisement by USMX. While several issues were discussed, no agreements were reached."
USMX noted the small committee meetings were facilitated by representatives of the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, including Director George Cohen, Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh, and Regional Commissioners Pete Donatello and Jack Sweeney.
USMX has 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," while ILA President Harold Daggett has vowed to keep the cap unchanged.
The ILA's contract was originally due to expire on Sept. 30, but was extended 90 days to Dec. 29 while contact talks continue.
Meanwhile, the National Retail Federation sent a letter Monday asking President Obama "to use all means necessary, including Taft-Hartley, to keep the two sides at the negotiating table and head off a coast-wide strike."
NRF President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Shay said "We cannot afford further supply chain disruptions as we enter 2013. The two sides must remain at the negotiating table until a deal is reached. We fully believe the two sides can reach an agreement that will ensure the continued competitiveness of these ports for the foreseeable future. At this point, however, we believe that a strike will only be averted through immediate intervention by the administration.
"Allowing a strike to occur for even one day could have a negative impact on all of those downstream businesses and employees who rely on the ports," Shay added. - Chris Dupin