Friday, April 12, 2013

ILA Approves Six-Year Contract

Members of the International Longshoremen’s Association, a union primarily representing dockworkers on the East and Gulf coasts, voted April 9 to approve a new six-year contract covering 14,500 workers.

“On behalf of ILA members and officers at all ports, we’re thrilled this Master Contract was ratified by an overwhelming margin,” ILA President Harold Daggett, who led the negotiations for the union, said.

The approval, which followed more than a year of negotiations, came eight days before the scheduled ratification vote by members of the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX).
In a separate vote on a local agreement, the ILA also announced that workers at the Port of New York and New Jersey, the largest on the East Coast, had voted by a more than three to one margin, approved a new local contract with the New York Shipping Association.
Workers at 10 of the 13 other East and Gulf Coast ports also ratified separate local agreements April 9, according to the union. It said negotiations at the three remaining ports – Philadelphia, Baltimore and Hampton Roads – are expected to conclude next week.

“We’re obviously pleased that ILA members voted to ratify the Master Contract,” USMX chair and CEO David Adam said. “It’s in the best interest of both sides, our customers and the country that the ports continue to operate without disruption and that’s precisely what this agreement will do for the next six years.”

Negotiations on a new contract began more than a year ago to replace an agreement that expired Sept. 30, 2012. Both sides agreed twice to extend the contract and to continue bargaining under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

The new contract, which is retroactive to the expiration of the previous pact, includes a $1-an-hour wage increase in 2014, 2016 and again in 2017, the contract’s final year. Starting pay would remain at $20 an hour but new employees would reach the top wage scale in six years instead of the current nine.

The contract also guarantees that carriers will fund the annual container royalty payments at $211 million, the amount paid in 2011, plus up to an additional $14 million for administrative expenses; and share equally with the ILA any container royalties that exceed $225 million.
Another provision of the agreement will protect the jobs of workers displaced by the introduction of new technology and automation at the ports.

The USMX represents employers at 14 ports and 24 ocean carriers, while the ILA has a total of about 65,000 members on the East and Gulf coasts, as well as the Great Lakes and Puerto Rico.