Thursday, September 20, 2012
CBN Labor News Update
ILA-USMX contract deadline extended to end of year
A collective sigh of relief might be heard from the shipping industry over today's news that the International Longshoremen's Union that represents a labor force that works at ports from Maine to Texas, and its employer group, the United States Maritime Alliance, have both agreed to extend the deadline of their collective bargaining agreement from September 30 to December 29 in an effort to do so "for the good of the country" so as to avoid any work disruption, according to the federal mediator who is presiding over the recently jumpstarted negotiations.
The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service's director, George H. Cohen, said in a statement today that "progress has been made on several important subjects" and the extension will "provide the parties an opportunity to focus on the outstanding core issues in a deliberate manner apart from the pressure of an immediate deadline."
The two sides resumed negotiations under the auspices of the FMCS this week after months of off-and-on negotiations and at times, contentious public bickering over issues such as terminal automation, benefits and wages.
"The negotiations on the Master Agreement will be conducted during the same time frame as negotiations for local agreements," said Cohen.
The news of the labor-management contract extension to year's end comes during the critical peak shipping season and could allay industry fears for now over what had been the potential for disrupted supply chains through East and Gulf coast ports.
"Due to the sensitivity of this high profile dispute and consistent with the Agency's longstanding practice, we will not disclose either the location of the meeting or the content of the substantive negotiations that will take place," Cohen said.
The FMCS is an independent U.S. government agency created in 1947 to operate as a conflict resolution buffer between contentious labor and management issues.
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