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Mar. 31, 2014

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INTERNATIONAL MARITIME www.joc.com THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE 35 By Joseph Bonney TH E I NTE RNATIONAL LON GS H ORE M E N ' S Association and the New York Shipping Association have enlisted new allies in their campaign against the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, but the commission appears unfazed. Several hundred ILA members halted work without warning for two hours on March 25 to attend a rally where several New Jersey business, labor and political officials denounced the commission and urged repeal of its authority to regulate longshore hiring. "The Waterfront Commission is the closest thing to communism we have seen in the United States of America," ILA President Harold Daggett told the cheering crowd. "The Waterfront Commission is a police state with a kangaroo court system ... It's time to put the commission into remission." Joining Daggett were officials from the New Jersey AFL-CIO, the state Chamber of Commerce and organizations representing motor carriers, automakers, maritime inter- ests, retailers and other unions, including the Teamsters. They took turns blaming the commission for hiring delays that have fueled a labor shortage at the port. The com- mission was created in 1953 to combat crime on the docks and since 1969 has regulated the size of the port's longshore workforce. "We're the only port in America that has to jump through such bureaucratic hoops just to fill one empty position, let alone the hundreds that remain," NYSA President John Nardi said. "We need a right-sized workforce of well-trained, diverse and capable individuals as determined by the employer, not a quasi-governmental agency." The business-industry-political coalition is an effort to raise pressure on New York lawmakers to concur with New Jersey's 2007 legislation to strip the commission of its authority to regulate the size of the port's longshore workforce. New Jersey accounts for more than 80 percent of the port's cargo and work, but the commission's political support is stron- gest on the New York side of the harbor. The industry and commission have been fighting for months over new hiring rules that the commission says are needed to increase diversity but that the NYSA and ILA say represent "mission creep" by an agency they say is stuck in the 1950s. The rules restrict the ILA's traditional role in referring job candidates for employers to vet and recommend for commission back- ground checks and licensing. The union and employers have challenged the rules in U.S. District Court in Newark. "The Waterfront Commission's attack on diversity is all smoke and mirrors," Daggett said. "It'a an attempt to break the union." The commission, he said, is interfering with the NYSA-ILA contract and "corrupting safety standards for longshore- men, destroying productivity and denying employment. They are wrecking our port." The commission issued a quick rebuttal., saying charges that it is delaying dockworker hiring are "unequivocally and demonstrably false," and that the NYSA and ILA officials have misled their business, political and labor allies about the longshore hiring dispute. The coalition "apparently relied solely on the misrepresentations of the NYSA and ILA who, over the past several months, have been forced to retract similar accusations of delay in hiring," the commission said in a statement. The commission said it "has not been the source of any labor shortages or slowdowns in the port. To the contrary, we have openly criticized the glacial pace at which the NYSA is moving with regard to getting longshore- men sponsored and working in the port." NY-NJ'S WATERFRONT BRAWL WIDENS The Waterfront Commission fires back against growing criticism for delays in hiring dockworkers with third parties, such as marine terminal operators, stevedores and supply providers. Under the revised VSA, the carriers must negotiate independently with third parties and enter separate contracts with such par- ties, he said. Lidinsky's opposition to the P3 doesn't come as a surprise. The former FMC chair- man said last year that the alliance was "moving forward as if it has already met regulatory approval despite the lack of any significant filing with regulatory authorities in Europe, China or the U.S." Some shippers and transportation pro- viders raised concerns with the FMC that the P3 would foster monopolistic prac- tices, reduce service via increased use of transshipment hubs and push out smaller carriers. The P3 carriers have countered that the alliance will be strictly operational by nature and improve reliability by reduc- ing the number of sailing cancellations. As it relates to the European Union, the P3 doesn't require approval, but regulators have been reviewing information collected from the carriers and industry interests to see if there are grounds for an investigation. Because the P3 isn't considered a merger, it can take effect in Europe immediately. But if European regulators determine at any time that it violates Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, authorities can dissolve the consortium, Hubert de Broca, directorate general for competition at the EU's division of Antitrust-Transport, Post and Other Service, told the JOC late last year. The view of Chinese regulators remains unclear. The country's murky regulatory procedures and willingness to protect state- owned industries such as container lines Cosco and China Shipping make gauging the inner workings of Beijing difficult. How- ever, some believe recent moves by Cosco and China Shipping to expand cooperation reflect pressure by the central government in Beijing on those carriers to become stron- ger competitors. JOC Contact Mark Szakonyi at mszakonyi@joc.com and follow him on Twitter: @szakonyi_joc.

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