Officials report the International Longshoremen’s Association and U.S. Maritime Alliance have reached a tentative agreement for a new six-year master contract. The new master contact averts a Feb. 7 work stoppage and keeps 14 U.S. ports from Maine to Texas open for business.
George H. Cohen, director of the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service – which had been assisting the two sides in contract talks- said “the tentative agreement is subject to the ratification procedures of both parties and, as well, to agreements being achieved in a number of local union negotiations.”
As Cohen said, those local negotiations are ongoing and won’t interrupt any port operation. The local talks will concern issues unique to each port. For example, the 3,300 workers at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, who account for slightly more than 20 percent of the union’s 14,500 members, are concerned about preserving language giving them exclusive authority to repair and maintain chassis equipment provisioned there. However, that is a minor issue for ILA workers at ports in Charleston and Savannah.
If the ILA and the NYSA don’t reach an agreement in the local dispute, the port could shut down, said Jonathan Gold, vice president for supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation.
RCL Agencies Inc. will continue to monitor the situation and will continue to provide you with timely updates.