About 14,500 rank-and-file members of the International Longshoremen’s Union who work at ports along the East and Gulf Coasts are voting today on whether to ratify a new six-year master contract.
The tentative master contract was recommended for approval by the ILA’s 200-member Wage Scale Committee in March after months of difficult negotiations with employers represented by U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX).
ILA members will also be asked to approve local contracts specifying working conditions in individual ports.
ILA President Harold Daggett asked members to approve the agreement in a letter dated March 19, highlighting:
- A guarantee by USMX carriers to pay $211 million in container royalties in each of the six years.
- Three $1-per-hour increases in 2014, 2016, and 2017 that will take the highest wage for longshoremen to $35 per hour.
- A faster path to the top wage bracket for ILA members. Currently, the starting wage is $20 per hour, with every worker reaching the top wage in nine years. Under the new contract, that time will be cut to six years.
- An increase in an assessment for local fringe benefit funds.
- A continuation, without change, of the union’s healthcare benefit, which Daggett said “is better than any other union healthcare plan.”
- New provisions that Daggett said safeguards the jurisdiction of ILA members and protection of workers displaced by technology.
Daggett has also asked ILA members in the Port of New York and New Jersey to approve their contract with the New York Shipping Association.
NYSA said the agreement includes a provision for a relief gang system, which is a variation of shift work.
Also included is a special “window pension benefit,” which NYSA said will induce up to 400 industry workers to retire in the next 12 months and starts a new recruiting, hiring and training plan to replace those workers. - Chris Dupin