U.S.: ILA issues port strike preparation instructions
In a letter to local International Longshoremen’s Union (ILA) branches, organization President Harold Daggett called for strike preparations that could shut down United States ports from Maine to Texas at the end of the year.
Containizered goods would suffer the brunt of the strike, with a special exception for fresh foods like fruits and vegetables.
"Unfortunately, Master Contract negotiations are not progressing well and it is expected that there will be a coastwise strike beginning at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, December 30, 2012. It is imperative that all ILA local unions begin immediately to prepare for a strike," he said in an official statement.
If a strike occurs, containerized cargo will not be handled, with the exception of perishable commodities, military cargo and mail. Passenger ships and non-containerized cargo will also be accepted.
Perishable commodities are defined as fresh products with a limited shelf life that are not frozen.
Daggett called for local units to establish strike committees to organize workers. He also insisted on no violence at picket lines.
During talks on Tuesday, Dec. 18, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service recommended a short deadline extension to keep both parties on the bargaining table.
The current master contract for East and Gulf Coast port workers is set to expire Saturday, Dec. 29.
The December deadline resulted from a 90-day extension after talks stalled in September and failed to come to a resolution before the original expiration date.
Although USMX accepted the possibility of another contract extension, the ILA rejected the offer.
In a statement Thursday, the ILA outlined the Container Royalty Fund as a key point of contention.
The ILA would like to maintain the current fund, which contributes to worker benefits.
The USMX, however, has proposed phasing out the fund, which the ILA rejected. It suggested maintaining royalties at 2011 levels for 25 years and barring new employees from such payments.