ILA members threaten port shutdown across U.S. East Coast
Rank and file members of the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) have called for work stoppages from Maine to Texas, protesting over hiring practices at U.S. East Coast ports.
In a release, members said they were calling for a shutdown of ports as well as a march on Washington D.C. to protest job loss, alleging some ports "purposely reduce the numbers of dockworkers, causing immeasurable damage to the nation's economy".
The release made specific mention of this trend at the South Carolina Port Authority and the federally permitted Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.
It is important to note the release came from key ILA members, it is not an official release from the ILA itself.
The proposed march on D.C. is an attempt to get Congress to save the ports from this practice, which is possible as the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor requires congressional approval to operate due to its interstate impact.
“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 ILA vice president and president of ILA Local 1422, in Charleston, South Carolina.
"We are protesting damage to the nation’s economy that is caused by the kind of interference that President Trump promised to stop."
The ILA members alleged overregulation and governmental interference were killing jobs and reducing the value of economic activity in South Carolina ports, with the authority using non-ILA members to operate cranes, receive and deliver cargo, and perform other terminal work.
Riley said this kind of government interference was causing "unemployment, unskilled and unsafe dock labor, and injury to the coastal economy".
In a release, the United States Maritime Alliance, Ltd. (USMX) described threats to engage in a coastwide work stoppage as "disturbing".
"The Master Contract between the ILA and the USMX forbids any unilateral work stoppage by the ILA for any reason," the USMX said.
"If the ILA engages in any unilateral walkout, USMX will enforce the contractual rights of its members to the fullest.
"USMX urges the ILA to remain in compliance with the Master Contract and thus continue to provide the stable labor environment that has existed on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts for decades."