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August 28 2023

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August 28, 2023 | Journal of Commerce 27 International Maritime lawsuit was allowed under the mas- ter contract. The NLRB eventually deter- mined that the lawsuit was a legal way for the ILA to defend its jurisdiction over container work as outlined in the master contract. The NLRB ruling was subsequently upheld by a US appeals court in July. The new lawsuit adds the request to compel arbitration because the ILA claimed that the USMX dodged arbi- tration on the initial dispute. Coastwide implications The dispute between the ocean carriers and the ILA over whether the master contract for US East and Gulf coast ports allows the former to call Leatherman will have a rip- ple effect that extends well beyond Charleston. Kenneth Riley, inter- national vice president of the ILA, told the Journal of Commerce in early July the union wants to strengthen the language in the next master contract to close any loopholes that ports in South Carolina, Georgia and North Carolina could use to claim terminals are extended and not new, thereby allowing them to maintain their so-called hybrid labor models. The current master contract expires at the end of September 2024 and conversations on new terms have already begun. Front and center will be the battle over union work preservation and the right to sue over a breach of contract now that the courts have established precedence, Riley told the Journal of Commerce Aug. 4. "All of these things have been made very clear," he said. "I think the carriers now have a new awak- ening to it as well, and if we want to have labor peace on the East Coast, these matters are going to have to be addressed." That port authorities aren't parties to a master contract could put them into an awkward position with their ocean carrier customers. The Georgia and South Carolina port authorities are required by their respective state laws to employ non- union labor, whereas ocean carriers are more focused on serving cus- tomers in key markets than on work jurisdiction at marine terminals. Some carriers view their relation- ship with the ILA as strategic. Under the master contract struck in 2018, the ILA is entitled to damages equal to $1,000 per con- tainer for any violation of the work jurisdiction agreement outlined in the contract, payable to the union's welfare and pension funds. The lawsuit did not specify how many containers were ultimately discharged at Leatherman, but given that Hapag-Lloyd continued to call Leatherman up until January 2023, "it is reasonable to calculate that approximately" $500 million in damages have occurred, the union said in its latest filing. The ILA in May 2021 initially sued the same parties for $300 million over calls to Leatherman. But that lawsuit was suspended due to a case put to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) about whether the THE INTERNATIONAL LONGSHOREMEN'S Association (ILA) wants to arbitrate its dispute with ocean carriers that called the Port of Charleston's Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal, claiming the calls have triggered at least $500 million in contractual dam- ages due to the use of non-union labor at the terminal. The ILA's filing of a lawsuit against maritime employer repre- sentative United States Maritime Alliance (USMX), Hapag-Lloyd and OOCL in New Jersey District court Aug. 3 came a week after a US appeals court denied an effort to squash a similar lawsuit the union filed in 2021. In seeking to compel arbitration over potential damages, the ILA is looking to hold ocean carriers accountable for their contractual pledge not to subcontract container handling work to marine terminals that use non-union labor. "The ILA has an interest in arbitrating the matter without any further delay because the ILA is entitled to a large amount of con- tractual damages that none of the respondents have made any attempt to address," the new lawsuit said. Asking for arbitration ILA seeks mediation with carriers in new Leatherman suit By Michael Angell and Teri Errico Griffis "If we want labor peace on the East Coast, these matters have to be addressed." The ILA's latest lawsuit over calls to Charleston's Leatherman terminal (pictured) raised the damages to $500 million from $300 million. Daniel Wright98 /

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