Longshore labor leaders say they are united
Leaders of the International Longshoremen’s Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union on Wednesday pledged solidarity, and complained employers were trying to drive a wedge between them through discussions of port competition between East and West coasts.
“We will not entertain a negotiating strategy that pits any perceived or facultative instability of one union to create a wedge between us or any advantage of one union over another. We share the same mission and our solidarity will not be changed,” said ILA President Richard P. Hughes Jr. at the union’s quadrennial convention this week in Hollywood, Fla.
Hughes remarks were echoed in a speech by ILWU President Robert McEllrath.
“They are using the word competition to put a wedge between you and I,” he said. “It isn’t about you and I, it’s about us, it’s about we are one.”
Hughes and McEllrath were reacting to a presentation Tuesday by James A. Capo, chairman and chief executive officer of the United States Maritime Alliance-USMX, the organization that represents stevedores and shipping lines in contract talks with the ILA.
Capo discussed competition East and Gulf coasts ports face from West Coast ports and railroads for discretionary cargo that can move through a number of different gateways.
McEllrath however had sharp words for other unions that are competing for dock work.
He said the word longshoreman is derived from seafarers calling out for additional help as their ships docked: “along shore men! along shore men!”
“They didn’t drift up to the dock and say ‘along shore Teamsters,’ ‘along shore SIU’ (referring to the Seafarers International Union, some of whose members do longshore work), ‘along shore Operating Engineers.’
“These are our jobs and we are going to take them back,” he said to cheers and applause.
McEllrath pledged his support to Harold J. Daggett, who is expected to be elected ILA president Thursday.
“Don’t ever worry about the ILWU, when we need help, you help us, when you need help, I’ll be there to help you,” he said.
Competition from non-ILA workers at Gloucester Terminals in Gloucester City, N.J., was the subject of a resolution unanimously passed at the convention on Wednesday.
Last Year Del Monte Fresh Produce moved operations to that terminal from a nearby ILA facility operated by Delaware River Stevedores, resulting in the loss of 200 ILA jobs.
The resolution said the ILA would see help from government agencies to combat Del Monte’s actions, and ask the AFL-CIO and the International Transport Workers’ Federation to support that effort and to ensure that locals are prepared should they face a company moving operations from an ILA to a non-ILA facility. ' Chris Dupin