ILA Calls for One-Day Shutdown at East Coast, Gulf Ports

Powell Slaughter - Furniture Today, February 22, 2017

NEW YORK -- The International Longshoremen's Assn. is calling for a shutdown of ports along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts and a march on Washington to protest union job losses. The date will be announced next week.

The planned daylong protest in Washington will highlight hiring practices in some of the nation’s ports that ILA says purposely reduce the numbers of dockworkers.

The union specified practices at the South Carolina Port Authority it says are designed to reduce union work force there; and the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor. ILA rank and file members maintain that the Waterfront Commission is causing hundreds of jobs at the port to remain unfilled.

The Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, a bi-state entity created in 1953, requires congressional approval to operate because it is an interstate compact.

“Today’s longshore workers are skilled craftsmen who operate expensive and dangerous equipment," said ILA Vice President and President of ILA Local 1422 Kenneth Riley, in Charleston, S.C. "The work of these dedicated professionals is responsible for much of America’s economic wealth. We are protesting damage to the nation’s economy that is caused by the kind of interference that President Trump promised to stop.”

ILA says the South Carolina Port Authority uses non-ILA members to operate cranes, receive and deliver cargo, and perform other terminal work.

Riley added that the Port of New York and New Jersey is regulated not only by the Waterfront Commission but also by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

"This overregulation is damaging to one of the nation’s busiest ports, and thus hundreds of local businesses that depend upon the port to survive, by reducing the number of dock workers and therefore the amount of cargo that could be moved,” he said.

The Washington protest by longshoremen is coming from the people who do the work, day-to-day working longshoremen.

ILA members in New York and New Jersey expressed concerns that potential companies shied away from starting businesses at the New York-New Jersey waterfront because of the interference and harassment of the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.

In May 2015, New Jersey State Senators voted to eliminate the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor but Governor Chris Christie vetoed the bi-partisan measure.