NEWS FLASH: ILA, USMX to resume contract talks

The union and employers revealed Friday they will resume master contract discussions, saying that issues and concerns regarding automation, which caused the talks to come to a halt in December, have been “adequately addressed.”


American Shipper |Chris Dupin |Friday, March 09, 2018

The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) revealed Friday they are resuming master contract negotiations, with the goal of finalizing terms on a contract that will keep cargo moving at Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports.

Their current contract expires Sept. 30, 2018.

Talks between the dockworker union and the USMX, which represents ILA employers, broke down on Dec. 6 last year over issues having to do with automation.

ILA President Harold J. Daggett said in December a proposal from USMX “would have killed this union within five years – they’d be nothing left. As of today, the ILA is against semi-automated terminals.”

Last Friday, a group of 110 associations representing shippers and logistics companies had asked the two parties to resume talks, saying that “even the threat of a disruption can have negative economic impact to Gulf and East Coast ports.”

A joint statement from Daggett and USMX Chairman David F. Adam on Friday said, “USMX and the ILA want to keep cargo moving, and we are ready to put in the effort to get this job done to the satisfaction of employers and ILA dockworkers.

“The two sides will continue to negotiate master contract issues and will encourage local port areas to concurrently work out terms for local agreements,” the statement added. “The ILA has received assurances from USMX that issues and concerns regarding automation have been adequately addressed, opening a path toward successfully negotiating a new agreement well before the current master contract expires at the end of September this year.”

Jim McNamara, a spokesman for the ILA, said that the two parties were able to clarify definitions of semi-automated terminals, fully-automated terminals, and semi- and fully-automated equipment, allowing the talks to resume.

While ILA leadership has previously scheduled meetings through March 18 on other matters, McNamara said the union would want to resume negotiations “as soon as possible.”