Gene Seroka, president of the Americas for APL Ltd., told attendees at the annual conference of the American Import Shippers Association and U.S. Association of Importers of Textiles and Apparel that contract negotiators for the International Longshoremen's Association and management will meet today and Thursday to discuss local issues in the Port of New York and New Jersey.
He added that next Monday through Thursday discussions will continue between the union and U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX), with members of the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service present.
Seroka said he was encouraged by the presence of the FMCS during the talks, singling out efforts to bring the union and employers together by FMCS Director George H. Cohen and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
Noting the deadline for the two sides has been extended to Feb. 6, he said “coming down to the wire is not something we like to do,” but added he was “very optimistic because of the conversations that continue to take place and the scheduling that has been agreed to by both sides.”
Seroka said it was a foregone conclusion that any work disruption was not good, adding this was illustrated by an eight-day strike by International Longshore and Warehouse Union clerks last year, which he said “decimated” the economy of the South California ports. - Chris Dupin