The International Longshoremen’s Association is calling for a shutdown of ports along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, and a march in Washington.
The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) said it is calling for a shutdown of ports along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, and a march in Washington.
A press release said the union, whose members work at marine terminals from Texas to Maine, “are calling for a shut down of ports along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and a march on Washington to protest job loss and the resulting negative impacts on America’s economy. The planned daylong protest in Washington will highlight hiring practices in some of the nation’s ports that purposely reduce the numbers of dockworkers, causing immeasurable damage to the nation’s economy.”
The press release said that a date for the protest would be announced next week.
Kenneth Riley, vice president and president of ILA Local 1422 in Charleston, who is quoted in the press release, said that the event might be held in the next 30 days. Riley was reached by phone in Algeciras, Spain where he was participating in a dockworker protest.
The release was issued not by the union itself, but an external public relations firm. The fact that Riley was the only person quoted in the press release made one government official skeptical of whether the protest was “ILA-wide sanctioned.”
But Riley said the plan for the protest has the support of the ILA Executive Council, and when a query was made to the union’s headquarters about the press release, union spokesman James McNamara directed American Shipper to Sheinkopf Communications, the New York based public relations firm that issued the press release.
The call for the protest came after contract extension talks held last week in Delray Beach, Florida.
Tthe ILA and the employer group United States Maritime Alliance issued a joint statement after that meeting saying that it was “productive and fruitful.“
But in a statement from Hank Sheinkopf, of Sheinkopf Communications said in an email at the same meeting 200 rank and file members “expressed outrage at the way their fellow dockworkers were treated in Charleston, SC and NY/NJ. The result was a call for a massive protest in Washington DC, in which more than 15,000 members are expected to protest. ILA National leadership is not involved with the protest. The location and time of the protest are being discussed now, we are told. But the waterfront is a place where things just happen.”
The press release highlighted two issues:
• The ILA’s long-standing desire to eliminate the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor;
• And the use of state employees at terminals operated by the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA).
The ILA also complains that the Waterfront Commission, an agency created in the 1950s to fight corruption and crime on New York and New Jersey docks and regulate the supply of labor, is “damaging the regional economy of the Port of New York and New Jersey” by “causing hundreds of jobs at the port to remain unfilled.”
It also said “interference by the South Carolina Port Authority has
reduced the number of dockworkers, injuring not only the port itself,
but also the local and national economy.”
Over 500 state workers are employed at SCPA terminals. They operate
ship to shore cranes, and container handling equipment in the container
yards at the port. ILA members shuttle containers between the container
yard and cranes and man the gates truckers use to move containers in and
out of the terminals.
“We will wake up the decision makers and force them to focus on our ports,” said Riley, vice president and president of ILA Local 1422 in Charleston. “We are protesting damage to the nation’s economy that is caused by the kind of interference that President Trump promised to stop.”
When contacted by American Shipper, neither the Waterfront Commission or the SCPA were willing to comment on the ILA announcement.
Correction: The press release said that a date for the protest would be announced next week, but an earlier version of this story incorrectly said that the protest was planned for next week.