Friday, October 18, 2013

Longshore Workers Strike at Port of Baltimore

Activity at the Port of Baltimore ground to a halt on Oct. 16 as International Longshoremen’s Association Local 333 went on strike after contract negotiations with the Steamship Trade Association of Baltimore broke down.

Following an Oct. 15 vote against the trade association’s latest contract proposal, national ILA officials ordered the strike and picketing began the following morning.

At the time the strike was called, five cargo ships were docked at Baltimore, according to the port.
According to Maryland Port Administration spokesman Richard Scher, although only ILA Local 333 is striking, the three other ILA locals that represent Port of Maryland workers will not cross the picket line, meaning all the port’s longshore workers – roughly 2,000 of the port’s 14,000 employees – are refusing to work.

The ILA is the largest union of maritime workers in North America, representing over 65,000 longshore workers on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, Great Lakes, major U.S. rivers, Puerto Rico and Eastern Canada.

In April, the union ratified a new contract with the United States Maritime Alliance, or USMX, which represents employers at 14 ports and 24 ocean carriers, thus averting a potential strike at East Coast ports.

The Port of Baltimore is ranked as the top port in U.S. for handling autos and light trucks, farm and construction machinery, imported forest products, imported sugar, imported aluminum and imported gypsum, and second in the U.S. for exported coal and imported iron ore.