The International Longshoremen’s Association has long railed against the Waterfront Commission, which performs background checks on its members and other waterfront workers and conducts law enforcement activities related to the port. The agency was set up in 1953 to fight crime and corruption on the waterfront, but the ILA has called it outdated.
Employers also have periodically complained about the Waterfront Commission’s oversight in telling them how many longshoremen they are allowed to employ, saying it limits their flexibility in hiring.
In her ruling Wednesday, Wigenton cited language in the compact that created the Waterfront Commission that said amendments and supplements to the compact must be adopted by both states and noted New Jersey’s proposed withdrawal from the compact and its termination would be “the most substantial type of change.”
“To date, New York’s Legislature has not enacted concurring legislation” to ratify the New Jersey legislation, she noted.
Walter Arsenault, the executive director of the Waterfront Commission, said, “We are very pleased with the court’s decision. Today’s significant victory safeguards the Waterfront Commission’s ability to continue its critical mission of combating corruption and ensuring fair hiring practices in the Port of New York-New Jersey. Notwithstanding this lawsuit, we have worked closely with Governor Murphy’s administration to enhance port productivity and fair hiring, and we look forward to continuing to work together for the good of the port and the citizens of New Jersey and New York.”
According to a press release posted on the website of insidernj.com, New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney has called for an appeal of Wigenton’s decision.
“This is an outdated commission that was doing little more than hindering economic growth and costing us jobs in the state’s shipping industry,” said Sweeney. “We should not be held hostage to an ancient compact that outlived its purpose long ago. New Jersey should challenge the court ruling and get it reversed.”