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August 14 2023

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August 14, 2023 | Journal of Commerce 13 Cover Story The ILA's Great Lakes district has already secured a 40% increase in wage and benefits over the course of a new six-year contract covering 2,000 breakbulk workers, John Baker, gen- eral organizer of the ILA, told the ILA convention. The deal with Great Lakes stevedores would work out to a 5.7% average annual increase over the course of the contract. The ILA did not say what scale of wage and benefit increase it's looking for in the master contract with the USMX, but Dennis Daggett said that "2% and 3% increases aren't going to cut it anymore." 'A major threat' Pending ratification of the ten- tative West Coast contract, ILWU workers will also get an equal share of a one-time $70 million bonus intended to reward dockworkers for remaining on the job during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the union was less successful in trying to offset past allowances made for automa- tion at marine terminals. The tentative agreement stip- ulates how many mechanics will be assigned to work at automated terminals. However, the demand by ILWU locals in Southern California to get coastwide negotiators to agree to increased manning requirements for certain cargo-handling equip- ment at conventional terminals failed, according to two sources close to the talks. "Dockworkers around the world are facing a major threat to their jobs and their future: automation," Harold Daggett said from the dais. "We are all together in solidarity around the world. We will fight against automation of the maritime industry." During his speech, Daggett showed a video of automated strad- dle carriers operating inside a por- tion of APM's Pier 400 terminal in the Port of Los Angeles. The video claimed that automation at Pier 400 and other terminals in Los Angeles and Long Beach cost some 600 dock- worker jobs. "Who the hell is a foreign com- pany like Maersk to come to America and build a fully automated terminal like that one we just saw?" he said. "Those are jobs lost in America and profits sent back to Copenhagen." Maersk said in a statement to the Journal of Commerce that the num- ber of longshore workers at Pier 400 has fluctuated due to port volumes and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the ongoing modernization of the terminal. The carrier referred to employment figures from the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which show that the number of longshore workers in ILWU Local 13, which covers the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, who were paid for one or more hours of work grew from 7,331 in 2019 to 7,550 in 2022. Harold Daggett called on seafarer unions to join a proposed global alli- ance of dockworker unions. "There is going to be an explosion, and the ILA and dockers across the world are going to light the fuse," he said. "It's time we put companies out of busi- ness that push automation." John Nardi, president of the Shipping Association of New York and New Jersey, which represents maritime employers at the busiest East Coast port, told ILA members at the convention that they them- selves need to be more efficient and productive in order to mitigate job losses from automation. "The fight against automation happens at every port and terminal every day," Nardi said. "If the perfor- mance and productivity are there, there is no need for automation." A matter of jurisdiction Dennis Daggett warned that ILA members must also be ready to defend their turf against developers "We are committed to getting back to the table before [the contract's] expiration."

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