ILA delegates to discuss contract extension
International Longshoremen's Association President Richard P. Hughes Jr. said the union's wage scale committee will meet early next week to consider a management proposal to extend its contract.
Hughes said in an Aug. 20 letter that the proposal would defer for one year a salary increase scheduled for Oct. 1, but told delegates the offer would include several improvements over the life of the contract. A spokesman said there have been discussions of extending the contract's end from October 2010 to October 2012.
Improvements being discussed include removing a cap on container royalties for the life of the extension, changing the union's tiered wages structure where newer employees make less money than long-term workers, increasing the minimum hourly wage to $20, an increase for top-tier wage earners, and a new fringe benefit fund, Hughes said.
'Based on the 2008 contract year man hours, this deferral saves management in excess of $37.6 million,' he said in a letter to members of his union's wage scale committee. But the other changes 'by my calculation, it would increase the actual cost to management by some $150 million.' It was not clear what time period those savings and costs cover, and a union spokesman said ILA is not offering details beyond what was contained in Hughes's letter.
'We have more than adequate information to evaluate all of the elements of management's proposal,' Hughes said. 'Since this proposal has significant effects on the livelihoods of the membership, it is my duty to present it to you for your consideration.'
Members of the committee will meet Sept. 1-3, and possibly Sept. 4 at the Caribe Royale Orlando hotel in Orlando, Fla. The delegates last met in February to discuss the contract.
Hughes also responded in his letter to what he said 'certain erroneous statements' were made by ILA International Executive Vice President Harold J. Daggett about him being engaged in secret negotiations with representatives of United States Maritime Alliance (USMX), the management group that negotiates the master contract with the ILA.
Hughes said he has had conversations with James Capo, chairman and chief executive officer of USMX, but that all executive officers of the union were aware of the meetings and that Daggett and other officers of the union had participated in some.
'It is also important that you are aware that I informed USMX Chairman James Capo, and my top International officers from the start, that no contract extension would be entered into without the proposals submitted to the wage scale committee delegates and a vote by the ILA membership,' said Hughes in his letter. 'I made this pledge in the spirit of full union democracy. I repeat my pledge to you again.'