James A. Capo, chairman and chief executive officer for the U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX), which represents marine terminals, shipping lines, and port associations that employ the members of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), said he's still hopeful the two sides will “get back together and get a deal worked out.”
Discussions between the ILA and USMX on a master contract to replace the one that expires on Sept. 30 broke down
last week, and a union spokesman James McNamara said the ILA wants USMX’s final and best offer to its wage scale delegates, a body of about 200 union leaders from ports up and down the East and Gulf coasts, to see if they will accept it.
But Capo said in an interview Wednesday with American Shipper
that he has received no formal request for such an offer from the ILA.
“As far as I am concerned, I don’t have anything to give them," he said. "We are still in the middle of bargaining as far as I am concerned.”
Capo said no meetings with the union are currently scheduled.
“I’m available, that’s all I can say," he added. "We have issues that have to be discussed, and for whatever reason they seem reluctant to talk about those.
“We have certain issues that are important to management… pay practices, archaic work rules. We have to address those and they are not willing to do that," he said. "That is what broke these negotiations apart, their unwillingness to discuss those things we need to talk about.”
Capo said he recognizes shippers “are very nervous, but I don’t know what to tell them. I am willing to sit down and talk, but we have to have some intelligent discussion about the issues that are important to us” (the USMX members).
Capo noted when the ILA and USMX met in met in July
after three days of negotiation they were able to “work out agreements on automation and chassis that were important to the ILA.”
When the two sides met last week to continue talks in Delray Beach, Fla., “I expected the same consideration to be given to our issues and it did not happen. They did not want to talk to the things that were important to us.
“I said we are not going to be able to go any further until you are willing talk about this. That ended the discussions,” he said.
Capo said employers are “asking for some relief regarding the way overtime is paid, the fact that we are paying so many people with guarantees—so many people that don’t work get paid for time not worked. It is a huge expense for this industry. These are the things we are trying to address.
“We are not trying to send them (the ILA) back to the Stone Age, but obviously this pay for time not worked in either guarantees or the way that overtime is structured—it makes no sense, it absolutely makes no sense in today’s environment. That is the issue that they are apparently reluctant to talks about.”
Capo said USMX is not against paying guarantees if ILA members are called for work and the ship is not at the dock to be worked.
“There should be some compensation for a period of time,” he said. “We have a situation, in New York particularly, where people would be ordered up to go to work at 7 p.m. and they are paid from 8 a.m. That is insane.”
Another area is container royalties that are paid on container volumes. Capo said “we had spoken about capping the royalties and using the excess to pay for some other benefits. We had some discussion, we just never got anywhere.
“Now do I expect everything is going to be changed overnight? No. But we have to start a process that will allow us to deal with that over a period of time. These are tough issues for everybody, I understand this,” he said.
Capo said he has the support of the USMX members who, he said, are “very adamant about the need to address the way we do business and make some changes that are compatible with today’s environment.” - Chris Dupin