Harold Daggett, president of the International Longshoremen's Association, has broken weeks of silence during contract negotiations to complain that employers "want to grab more money away from the ILA and its members by placing a cap on container royalty."
The union also said its negotiators "would not budge" on their opposition to eliminating the
8-hour guarantee and overtime provisions during negotiations in
September with U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX), the organization that represents ILA employers - shipping lines, terminals, and port associations.
When negotiations did not produce an agreement near the Sept.
30, 2012 contract deadline, the ILA and USMX agreed to a 90-day extension and assistance from the
Federal Mediation and Conciliation Services to
The union said "the end date of that extension is now fast approaching but the ILA's resolve remains strong."
USMX had no immediate comment on Daggett's comments. On its Website
, USMX explained "container royalties were first established in 1960 as a way to protect
ILA members in New York from job losses created by containerization. Today, thousands of ILA workers who were not alive in 1960 continue to
receive container royalty payments that in 2011 totaled $211 million –
an average of $15,500 for ILA workers at the 14 East and Gulf Coast
ports." It said it's not seeking to eliminate the royalties but cap them and use the savings to help pay for other benefits
for ILA workers
In a statement posted on the ILA's Website
, the union said "preventing a cap on container royalty is one of the key battles" in the current contract talks and that Daggett's "stance on fighting any cap on container royalty
is even stronger."
The ILA said "other issues in the current negotiations that have direct effect on ILA members from Maine to Texas are the eight-hour guarantee and the seven man lashing gang."
"USMX has made it clear in negotiations and to the public through their website postings (USMX.com) that they are looking to cut, as an example, an ILA member in Savannah's Container Royalty payment and eliminate an eight-hour guarantee for an ILA member in Houston," Daggett said. "They attack work rules in New York and look to strip the seven-man lashing gang in the South Atlantic. We understand that USMX has continually played one port against the other but that strategy will not succeed.
"Our ILA is committed to protecting all ILA members affected by this contract." he continued. "We stand united and will put a full contract package together that meets all our goals at all ports."
The ILA said talks with USMX are "likely continue during the week of December 10."
Daggett indicated he may call full ILA Wage Scale Meetings with USMX on Dec. 10-11, possibly at a hotel near Newark Airport in Newark, N.J. The Wage Scale Committee is the group that must vote on a contract offer.
"I pledged to my rank-and-file members that I would not agree to anything in the Master Contact that would take away any of our hard won gains of the past," Daggett said. "We have important and significant work in front of us to get a contract in place by the end of December, but I know we will achieve success because of the unity and solidarity of the ILA." - Chris Dupin