Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Port of Baltimore Longshore Strike Ends

After a three-day strike that virtually shut down operations at one of the East Coast’s largest ports, longshore workers at the Port of Baltimore went back to work – temporarily, at least – on Oct. 18.

On Oct. 17 members of International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) Local 333 agreed to return to their jobs for 90 days while the union continues contract negotiations with the Steamship Trade Association of Baltimore, which represents local shipping lines.

The strike was approved by union leadership the night of Oct. 15, after Local 333 members overwhelmingly rejected a contract covering local issues such as workplace safety. Starting the next morning, longshore workers began picketing shipping terminals.

At the time the strike was called, five cargo ships were docked at Baltimore, according to the port. At least one ship – the CCNI Antofagasta – left Baltimore without unloading any cargo. It instead sailed to the Port of Charleston in South Carolina.

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

The four ILA locals in Baltimore represent about 1,200 dockworkers. Although only Local 333 was on strike, the three other ILA locals representing Port of Maryland workers would not cross the picket line, meaning all the port’s longshore workers – roughly 2,000 of the port’s 14,000 employees – refused to work.

Negotiations between the union and management group are ongoing.