NEW YORK Talks between
the International Longshoremens Association (ILA) and the
New York Shipping Association (NYSA) have broken down, casting
a shadow over next weeks master contract negotiations
between the union and the U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX).
negotiationsan effort to hash out local work rules and
crew sizes ahead of larger East and Gulf coast contract
negotiations with umbrella group USMX next weekcame to a
halt Wednesday morning when the ILA walked out after the NYSA
proposed general cuts and reduced crew sizes, a union spokesman
"They were asking for drastic
cuts and major changes in work rules and gang sizes," the
spokesman said. "They wanted reductions in almost all the areas
of the local negotiations. ... We thought we were much further
along than that."
The NYSA, which represents
marine cargo operators in the Port of New York and New Jersey,
said it wanted to discuss "excessive manning archaic work
practices" and it was "ready to bargain."
areprepared to discuss ideas suggested by the ILA. But by
walking out, the ILA leadership demonstrated its unwillingness
to engage in a serious conversation about the changes necessary
to ensure the viability of the Port of New York and New
Jersey," NYSA chief labor negotiator Joseph Curto said in a
The union spokesman said the
proposals were the same as those made six months ago and were
"They did end sooner than
expected," the ILA spokesman said of the talks. "Hopefully,
well make some progress."
A master contract that applies
to all East and Gulf coast ports must be negotiated along with
local contracts that govern holidays, pensions and local rules.
Local negotiations were held up and down the East Coast
Wednesday, while negotiations for the master contract with the
USMX are scheduled for Jan. 15, 16 and 17. Both the master and
local contracts must be settled by Feb. 6 to avert a threatened
strike, the ILA spokesman said.
The contracts were originally
set to expire in December, but the negotiation deadline was
extended to Feb. 6, averting a strike by about 15,000 members
of the ILA (
amm.com, Dec. 28). Prior to the extension, ports
and logistics companies had already started preparing for the
possible strike, with some ports mulling contingency plans and
alternative shipping points.
Logistics firm OHL Trade
Services said in a letter to customers this week that it was
continuing to watch the developments with caution. "The issues
surrounding the ILA-NYSA talks are raising concerns in the
cargo industry," it said.
The union said it would not
handle containerized cargo during a possible work stoppage,
although it would still load and unload unfrozen perishable
commodities, containerized mail, passenger ships, containerized
military cargo excluding household goods, and non-containerized
cargo and automobiles, according to the ILAs website.