Thursday, August 30, 2012
Largest ILA local votes to strike if deal not sealed before Sept. 30
In the wake of the recent standoff between the ILA and USMX, a strike of ILA’s 15,000 members came one step closer after the influential New York-New Jersey chapter weighed in Tuesday night.
The 900 members of ILA local 1804, based in Newark, voted unanimously on Wednesday to walk off the job “if a new master contract covering ports from Canada to Texas has not been reached” by the time the current deal expires on Sept. 30, reports the Star-Ledger.
"They wanted to get the message out that they were very, very unhappy," said ILA spokesman Jim McNamara of the rank-and-file membership. "It’s the biggest local in the ILA, so it has significance in terms of the mood of the union."
Labor negotiations between the two entities had re-engaged in late July, and “substantial progress” was reported with regards to key sticking issues, to include terminal automation, chassis pools, wages, and benefits.
But last week negotiations broke off and the employer group USMX released a statement referring to ILA workers as being "among the most highly compensated workers in the country, on average receiving $124,138 a year in wages and benefits, which puts them ahead of all but 2 percent of all U.S. workers."
Harold Daggett, president of the ILA, responded in a statement saying "USMX fails to note that longshore labor cost amounts to between 3 percent and 4 percent of the shipper's total cost."
When the two sides might get back to negotiations is now unclear.
The National Retail Federation's president and chief executive officer, Michael Shay, said earlier this week “Now that there is a real risk of disruption, most retailers using the East and Gulf Coast ports will be forced to executive contingency plans within the next week to meet in-store holiday deadlines."
For more of the Star-Ledger story: nj.com
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