NEW YORK The International Longshoremens Association (ILA) and U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX) have reached a tentative agreement, avoiding a work stoppage that would have affected operations at 14 East and Gulf coast ports.
The tentative "master agreement" is subject to the ratification procedures of both parties, as well as deals reached by a number of local unions, according to the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS).
"Those local negotiations are ongoing and will continue without interruption to any port operation. Out of respect for the parties ratification processes and consistent with the agencys long-standing confidentiality policy, we will not disclose any details concerning the substantive provisions that have been reached," FMCS director George H. Cohen said in a statement.
"I can report that the tentative agreement reflects the culmination of good-faith negotiations in which the parties successfully accommodated strongly held competing positions because of their commitment to problem solving. Again, collective bargaining has proven its worth by avoiding a potential work stoppage that would have had a severe negative impact on the nations economy," he added.
ILA president Harold J. Daggett believes that the unions members "will be satisfied with the results of our negotiating efforts," he said in a statement.
"Although the two sides cannot release complete details of this still-unfinished contract, I can assure my membership that the protections for our jurisdiction and increased benefits and wages were achieved," Daggett said. "We have come away from these master contract negotiations with landmark agreements on automation, protection of chassis work and powerful jurisdiction language."
The details of the tentative master contract agreement will be made available for ILA members to review and approve upon finalization of the full contract package, including master and local agreements, he added.
The USMX couldnt be reached for comment.
The current master contract, which covers 15,000 container workers, was set to expire Feb. 6. The deadline was extended from Dec. 28 in order to prevent ground containerized shipments from coming to a halt at 14 major ports on the East and Gulf coasts (amm.com, Dec. 28).
Joseph Curto, president of the New York Shipping Association (NYSA), congratulated the ILA and USMX on the master agreement. The NYSA is still in discussions with the ILA over a regional agreement.
"On the local level, there are a number of complex issues that the parties will be addressing. The good news is that bargaining is continuing and the day-to-day work in the ports facilities will go on without disruption," Curto said in an e-mail to AMM.