NEW YORK With a longshoremens union contract set to expire Dec. 29, talk of a potential work stoppage along the East and Gulf coasts is heating up.
The president of the International Longshoremens Association, Harold Daggett, has been granted authority to call for a strike if negotiations arent completed by the end of the month. "I ask all of you that if management continues to take a hard-line approach with us these next two days, to allow me to fight that fight," Daggett said in a statement Monday.
In September, the union extended labor talks by 90 days after threatening to strike at 14 portsincluding such metal-heavy ports as Houston, New York and Jersey, New Orleans and Mobile, Ala.if negotiations with the U.S. Maritime Alliance Ltd. failed to produce a new agreement (amm.com, Sept. 21).
A strike, or even the potential for a strike, will hurt cargo shipments such as steel, according to Ricky Kunz, the Port of Houston Authoritys vice president of trade development and marketing. "Will they come to an agreement? I certainly hope so. I already know there are some vessels that are diverted from this area to other ports to make sure the cargo doesnt get hung up on the docks," he told AMM. "The sooner they come to an agreement, the better off we all are."
Kunz said that diverting vessels could mean sending product to ports in Mexico or Canada, which may add costs to the end customer.
According to the master contract between the two sides, the strike would affect only container shipments and roll-on, roll-off cargo.
The most recent set of negotiations are set to conclude Wednesday.
A spokesman for the ILA could not be reached for comment.