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August 14 2023

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Sources say the USMX has made the ILA an offer on par with the 32% salary increase the ILWU secured in its latest contract. APM Terminals 12 Journal of Commerce | A ugust 14, 2023 Cover Story The martial theme was difficult to miss at the ILA's convention in Hollywood, Fla. When introducing his father, ILA Executive Vice Pres- ident Dennis Daggett referred to Harold as "the steady and powerful general" of the union's 60,000 "front-line heroes … who saved our nation's economy and the world's economy" during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under Harold Daggett, the ILA, which handles cargo as far west as Houston and along the Gulf Coast and up the East Coast to Maine, is ready to fight on a number of fronts. Arguably most pressing are the upcoming negotiations to replace the six-year master contract that expires in September 2024. Talks with the ILA's terminal operator and ocean carrier employ- ers, represented by the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX), are still in the early phase because both the master and myriad local contracts don't expire until 2024, but the union is nonetheless taking a more cautious approach this time around. By setting local contracts ahead of negotiating a new six-year master deal, the ILA is looking to head off the type of local disputes that bogged down West Coast longshore contract negotiations, dragging them out for more than 13 months. In an atypical move, the ILA last September asked its local chapters to start talks on port-specific work issues such as local benefits and work rules before picking delegates to the wage-scale committee that would oversee master contract talks. The ILA directed its locals to wrap up bargain- ing by the end of February 2023. Previous contract talks have started with the master contract, which covers wages and union-wide benefits, then settled local issues. During the convention, Dennis Dag- gett, the union's chief negotiator, told attendees the ILA wanted to settle local issues first because "local man- agement doesn't bargain in good faith, hides behind the no-strike clause, and says, 'The master contract is enough; we're not giving any more.'" But Daggett said the ILA and its employers have reached tentative local agreements in just two of the 14 ports covered under the master labor contract — New York and New Jersey and Baltimore. Maritime employers in other ports "have not taken the talks seriously," either because they first want to see the outcome of the master contract talks or because the master contract does not expire until September 2024, he said. Paul DeMaria, executive vice president of the USMX, told the ILA audience that he would help shep- herd through any local talks that have stalled to ensure a new master contract is negotiated before the existing one expires. "We are committed to our rela- tionship [with the ILA]," he said. "We are committed to getting back to the table before [the contract's] expiration. We are committed to completing all local negotiations." That lack of progress on the local level has stalled movement on a new master contract covering 45,000 longshore workers, but the current ILA-USMX master contract has a no-strike clause, and there's no indication that the failure to reach tentative local agreements has led to any cargo slowdown. As for the master contract, two sources familiar with the contract talks who asked not to be identified said employers have made an offer that was on par with the 32% salary increase the International Long- shore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) secured in a tentative contract agreed to in June. The rank-and-file members of the ILWU, which handles cargo from San Diego to Seattle, are expected to vote on the five-year contract in early fall. "Local management doesn't bargain in good faith."

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