Under federal moderation, representatives of the International Longshoremen Alliance (ILA) and the U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX), which represents steamship lines and terminals that employ ILA union members, continued negotiations towards a contract resolution this week. In late September, the ILA and USMX agreed to extend the Maine-Texas contract 90 days until the end of December. The extension averted the potential strikes that were planned for the pre-holiday peak trading season. However, with the December 29th deadline impending, there is only a little over a week left before the ILA moves forward with a Maine-Texas work stoppage.
Negotiations surround issues such as container and roll-on, roll-off wages, carrier-paid container royalties (support worker bonuses and benefits), medical plans, jurisdictions, and other elements. Talks broke off yesterday, as the ILA is resisting USMX’s proposal to cap worker payouts from container royalties at existing levels and use the excess to fund other ILA benefits. USMX also has proposed to eliminate royalties for new hires.
Local contract issues are also being discussed, which include management proposals. These provisions provide local negotiators with more flexibility to address work policies that require high staffing levels, particularly in the high-cost Port of New York and New Jersey. Unfortunately, contract negotiations between the two parties broke off yesterday, raising the likelihood of a Maine-Texas dock strike when the extension expires on December 29th. Stay tuned as more develops.