U.S. port strike talks hit stalemate over container royalties

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U.S. port strike talks hit stalemate over container royalties

Talks between the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) and the U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX) took a turn for the worse today, just 11 days out from a deadline to ward off strikes on the country's East and Gulf Coasts.

In respective press releases, both entities expressed their own flexibility in the discussions while showing disappointment over the other's stance on container royalties during bargaining sessions in Newark with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS).

The ILA has threatened to strike if an agreement cannot be made by the time the current Master Contract expires on Dec. 29, and proposed an extension until Feb. 1 if container royalties were "off the table".

The USMX says it agreed to this extension but said it was "rejected" by the ILA itself, "refusing to discuss any changes to the status quo on container royalty and renewing its vow to strike".

"USMX and its members are disappointed with the breakdown of negotiations and the inflexible stance that the union's leaders have maintained over the nine-month course of these talks," said USMX chairman and CEO James A. Capo.

"USMX seems intent on gutting a provision of our Master Contract that ILA members fought and sacrificed for years to achieve," responded ILA president Harold J. Daggett.

"We have repeatedly asked them to leave this item alone - it was a hard won gain by ILA members and a wage supplement achieved through hard fought negotiations."

The USMX highlighted it offered a six-year agreement with two wage increases of US$1 each over the period, with an average hourly rate increasing to more than US$55, including overtime and container royalty. The alliance also offered healthcare benefits, financial assistance and operational improvements.

The ILA said it hoped the USMX would agree to the extension to avoid a strike on Dec. 30.

Related story: U.S. East Coast port negotiations push for resolution

Photo: Emerald Freight Express


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