It certainly has been the summer of discontent as it relates to waterfront labor and their employer counterparts. Both the west coast and east coast have seen their share of issues:
1) The International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) reached a tentative contract agreement on June 14th for dockworkers on the US West Coast. The agreement is now in the caucus process and is being reviewed by the 29 locals and 22,000 members of the ILWU.
2) ILWU Canada was on strike the first thirteen days of July. They returned when a tentative deal was reached. However, the tentative agreement was rejected five days later, and union workers threatened to strike again. The two sides went back to the bargaining table, and a strike was averted. On July 20th, a second deal was reached giving a 19.2% wage increase over four years and an 18.5% increase in pensions and benefits. The union members rejected that offer as well. Now, there’s another offer on the table.
3) The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) negotiations are reportedly not going well. At this point, only two locals, New York/New Jersey and Baltimore, that have come to an agreement on local issues. The other twelve locals are nowhere close an agreement. As it relates to the master contract covering wages and pensions, there has been no meaningful progress there either. The sides seem far apart on wages, jurisdiction and automation.
4) The Port of Charleston, not a party to the ILA/USMX master contract, uses a hybrid model where state employees operate cranes and on-dock equipment and ILA members handle maintenance and repair and clerical functions. The two sides are at odds over the interpretation of contract language as it relates to new terminals. The ILA states any expansion or new terminal is under their jurisdiction, while USMX and South Carolina State Port Authority (SC Ports) disagree. The dispute over labor at SC Port’s Hugh K. Leatherman terminal was first heard by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) who ruled in favor of the union. USMX and SC Ports appealed to the US Circuit Court, who also ruled in the ILA’s favor. Employers have ninety days to decide if they will appeal to the US Supreme Court.