Watch Now

NEWS FLASH: ILA, employers reach tentative contract agreement

Rank-and-file longshoremen and employers still have to vote on six-year contract, and local pacts also are being negotiated.

   The International Longshoremen’s Association and the employer group United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) have reached agreement on a tentative master contract that will run through 2024.
   The deal to replace a contract that expires Sept. 30 still must be approved by rank-and-file members of the union, which represents dockworkers on the East and Gulf coasts.
   “We have reached a tentative agreement on a six-year master contract that is beneficial to both sides,” said Harold J. Daggett, ILA president, and David F. Adam, chairman of USMX, in a joint statement. But they did not reveal any information about future pay increases or other aspects of the agreement.
   Some 200 ILA wage-scale delegates unanimously approved the terms of the new agreement, following two days of master contract negotiations in Delray Beach, Fla.
   “The agreement culminates months of tough negotiations between the ILA and USMX,” the statement said. “Both sides hailed the agreement that was reached months ahead of the expiration of the current pact.”
   The union and USMX said they are encouraging local ILA and management groups to finalize local agreements by July 10, prior to full membership ratification votes by the ILA rank-and-file members and USMX.
   Agreement between the two sides seemed to be reached quickly this week, but ILA spokesman Jim McNamara noted, “There was a lot of work done ahead of time. Both sides really learned from previous negotiations and methodically put together the contract using the smaller committees to build details and then present it” to the wage-scale delegates.
    There was some concern early on about how smoothly the negotiations for a new contract would go after talks broke off abruptly in December over the issue of automation.
    In March, a group of 110 associations representing shippers and logistics companies asked the two parties to resume negotiations and about a week later the two sides met and said “issues and concerns regarding automation have been adequately addressed,” and enough progress had been made that they would present the complete package to the full ILA wage-scale delegates.
    Negotiations on local issues at ports will now continue, and the union hopes those agreements can be reached prior to a convention of the South Atlantic and Gulf Coast District Convention on July 16. McNamara said there has been significant progress in some ports, including in the Port of New York and New Jersey.
   Talks could be difficult in some ports. In Philadelphia, Wilmington, Del., and surrounding ports the ILA is pressing its effort to regain jobs that have been lost to non-ILA employers.
   In order to achieve its objectives at those terminals along the Delaware River, the ILA said last month, “one strategy may be to allow the ILA in the Port of Philadelphia and Wilmington to ‘carve itself out’ of the ILA-USMX Master Contract, freeing the membership there to exercise their right to strike and freedom of assembly against non-ILA and non-union companies.”
    The National Retail Federation welcomed the agreement.
   “This is good news,” said John Gold, NRF vice president for supply chain and customs policy. “This agreement is very important for retailers who are now in the process of bringing in their holiday season merchandise and were worried that the current contract could have expired right in the middle of that season. Retailers can now count on receiving their merchandise without disruption to the supply chain.”
   “This ensures that we will have stability at East Coast and Gulf Coast ports over the next six years,” Gold said. “That’s a good, long time.”

Chris Dupin

Chris Dupin has written about trade and transportation and other business subjects for a variety of publications before joining American Shipper and Freightwaves.