East Coast Workers Call for Strike at the Docks
U.S. EAST COAST - As employees call for a work stoppage in U.S. East Coast ports, could produce transportation in the region face disruption in the coming days?
The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) Vice President, and President of the union's Charleston branch, Kenneth Riley, has called for the region’s ports to shut down, according to news source The Loadstar, in an act of protest over increasing job losses.
“Today’s longshore workers are skilled craftsmen who operate expensive and dangerous equipment. The work of these dedicated professionals is responsible for much of America’s economic wealth,” said Mr Riley, according to the source.
While initial reports stated that the action would begin on Monday, February 27, which would coincide with the first day of the Transpacific Maritime Conference when union leaders and terminal employers would engage for the next round of master contract negotiations, Riley stated that would not give the union enough preparation time, according to source the Charleston Post and Courier.
The U.S. Maritime Alliance has reportedly called the possibility of work stoppage "disturbing."
"The master contract between the ILA and (the alliance) forbids any unilateral work stoppage by the ILA for any reason," the organization declared in a written statement. The alliance said it "will enforce the contractual rights of its members to the fullest" if a work stoppage occurs.
“It will be business as usual for us,” Jim Newsome, President and CEO of the State Ports Authority, commented, continuing to state that while the SPA operates the terminals, it does not control work on ships that visit the port.
Newsome added that the ILA’s contract includes a no-strike clause, “so one could assume someone would seek injunctive relief that could be rather quickly granted.”
Riley has commented that government-operated ports, including Charleston’s, are reducing union jobs by hiring non-ILA workers to operate cranes, receive and deliver cargo, and perform other duties. Also, the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor is creating new layers of background checks and other regulatory that are creating job shortages there.
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