Members of the Local 333 of the International Longshoremen's Association in Baltimore will vote on a proposed local contract
Tuesday, according to Michael Angelos, president of the Steamship Trade Association of Baltimore.
The proposed contract largely deals with work on automobile, cruise and forest product ships. A six-year master contract for working container ships was approved by the union last year.
Angelos would not discuss the contract vote when contacted by American Shipper
, other than to say that he was pleased that members would be given a chance to vote the agreement up or down.
David Adam, chairman and chief executive officer of USMX, the group that represents employers in master contract talks with the ILA, said in addition to Baltimore, locals in Charleston and Mobile are bargaining over local issues. The ILA contract originally expired on Sept. 30, but after two extensions, ILA members voted in favor of a new master contract in April.
Speaking at the Port Productivity Conference of Cargo Business News
sponsored by Port Everglades this week, Adams reviewed events of the past two years, saying that tense and "acrimonious" negotiations have transitioned into a much better working relationship between the union and employers.
"We communicate; we talk all the time," he said. "We have a history of just going back to work and then allowing things to fester over a few years, and everyone says we will fix it in bargaining. My goal is to do that during the contract and not at the end of the contract, so that we don't have the situation we had last time."
Adam noted that in the last contract, management and the ILA tried to resolve jurisdictional issues over container maintenance and repair so that the ILA would not lose work repairing and maintaining chassis.
"We have seen an increase in trucker-leased chassis where the ILA is not doing the maintenance work. So we are studying with several ports how we can implement a chassis situation that allows them (the ILA) to keep their jurisdiction," he said. "We are still trying work through that."
Adam also noted the desire by employers and ILA to add 650 new longshoremen and checkers to the harbor, in part to replace dockers offered incentives to retire early, but that the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor is allowing only 250 to be added while the ILA and their employers wrangle with the Commission's contention that new hiring procedures are needed to create a more diverse workforce.
"We have 400, six-figure jobs that we can't fill because the Waterfront Commission won't allow us to," said Adam. "I think if the local population knew that, they would storm the Waterfront Commission."
Adam noted the proposal by Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM to form the P3 vessel sharing alliance is likely to drive change in the shipping industry for years and cause some carriers to pair up and for vessel rotations to change to the benefit or detriment of some ports. He noted the ILA is opposing the P3 because it will have a negative impact on their work.