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August 14 2023

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fatir29 / 14 Journal of Commerce | A ugust 14, 2023 Cover Story of new offshore wind farms that are looking to bypass unionized longshore workers for loading and unloading equipment. Outside of the wage and benefit increases, the ILA wants firmer guarantees from maritime employers in a new master contract around preserving work jurisdiction. The current master contract requires that USMX only notify port authorities that ocean carriers "may be prohibited" from using new termi- nals that employ non-ILA workers. However, the ILA had to sue two ocean carriers, along with the USMX, to enforce that provision with the opening of the Port of Charleston's Hugh Leatherman Terminal. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in December ruled that the ILA had the right to sue the carriers and USMX to enforce its master contract. A US appellate court on July 28 upheld the NLRB's decision, ruling that the lawsuit was a lawful tactic to preserve work traditionally handled by the union's members. The South Carolina Ports Author- ity (SC Ports) has 90 days to file a request for the US Supreme Court to hear the case. In a statement to the Journal of Commerce, SC Ports President and CEO Barbara Melvin said the authority is "reviewing the opinion and weighing all options for appeal." Still, a hearing in front of the Supreme Court is unlikely, given that it only takes on around 1% of the cases submitted each term. The ILA said in a statement that its dispute was never with the port authority, but with ocean carriers, who are bound by the ILA-USMX master contract to use union labor in container handling. It said SC Ports was trying to "nullify" this agree- ment to lure carriers to use non- union workers to unload cargo. The port of Charleston — along with Savannah, Ga., and Wilming- ton, NC — uses a so-called hybrid model for its longshore workforce, with union workers performing certain jobs including maintenance and repair and clerical duties and state employees operating cranes and performing other on-dock work. At issue is whether giving union members all work at new or expanded East Coast terminals, per a 2013 master contract clause, is cre- ating new jobs or preserving work to which the ILA is entitled. The Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) is investing $1.15 billion to expand the Ocean Terminal, which handles containers and breakbulk cargo. GPA is also spending $260 million on upgrades to Berth 1 at the Garden City Terminal, the largest marine ter- minal in North America. It's unclear whether the manning language — if the ILA manages to get it included in the new contract — would be retroac- tive, potentially putting the Savannah terminals in the crosshairs. Dennis Daggett said a new master contract should also encourage more work for the ILA in maintaining and repairing chassis, as well as stronger protections against the advent of port automation that reduces work oppor- tunities for longshore labor. "We want ironclad language because years after we sign a contract, everyone gets amnesia," he said. JOC email: twitter: @michael_angell "It's time we put companies out of business that push automation."

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