American Shipper

Complaint against NY Waterfront Commission dismissed

Complaint against NY Waterfront Commission dismissed

   A U.S. District Court judge has dismissed a complaint by the New York Shipping Association (NYSA) which challenged plans by the Waterfront Commission of New York and New Jersey to set up a program that would allow companies to operate with a watchdog if the commission finds them unfit to be granted a license.

   The commission announced last year plans to set up an Independent Private Inspectors General Program.

   In a hearing before the New Jersey Senate last September, Walter Arsenault, the commission's executive director, said if his organization found that a company did not have “requisite good character and integrity” and denied it a license, under the IPSIG program, a company would “have the opportunity to accept an IPSIG or to appeal it to the courts in the states of New York and New Jersey. And even after they lose that hearing — rather than close down the company, we want to give those companies an opportunity to continue to employ people in the Port of New York, and we're willing to offer them an IPSIG program.”

   NYSA argued that such a rule would present members a “Hobson’s choice of losing a license or consenting to an IPSIG,” if they were denied a license.

   The Waterfront Commission is in the process of reviewing whether to grant about 50 stevedoring companies in the Port of New York permanent licenses, and after a meeting this week expected to have approved about 10. For decades the commission routinely issued temporary licenses, one of several practices that led to a scathing report by the New York State Inspector General in 2009 and a cleaning house of the agency’s leadership.

   Since then, under new leadership, the commission is in the process of reviewing all companies to see if they are fit to operate in the port and deciding whether to grant them permanent licenses.

   The commission was created in 1953 to fight corruption and influence of the mob on the waterfront in the Port of New York and New Jersey.

   The commission last year held hearings into what it said were “no work/no show jobs' held by some dock workers.

   On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Jose L. Linares in Newark, N.J. granted the commission’s request that the amended complaint filed by the NYSA be dismissed and said it had failed to show “that the IPSIG program imposes, or threatens to impose, any mandatory additional costs on the stevedoring companies.”

   Linares said “whether any member will ever be threatened with the loss of its license is determined not by the existence of the IPSIG program, but by a finding by the commission that the company lacks the ‘good character and integrity’ required for licensure…At bottom, the character and integrity of a stevedoring company lies within the control of the company itself.”

   An NYSA spokesperson said “we are looking at our options to see if there is basis for an appeal at this time.”

   Linares’ opinion is here:    ' Chris Dupin