At a waterfront rally Tuesday, the president of the International Longshoremen's Association along with several business leaders and government officials called for limiting the power of the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, which is involved in a court battle with the union and employers over its right to regulate hiring on the waterfront.
Harold Daggett, the international president of the ILA, spoke to a crowd of several hundred longshoremen, and complained that delays in adding new longshoremen is creating a safety issue because existing workers are working overtime.
"Will the commission accept responsibility when someone is seriously injured or killed on the job due to the lack of workers and my people being forced to work long hours? Put the commission into remission," he said.
He added, "The commission has no business interfering in our contract."
John Nardi, the president of the New York Shipping Association, which represents employers, noted that jobs used to be filed entirely through ILA referrals and that the union and employers agreed last year that half of new workers would be veterans, a quarter would be referrals from the NYSA and a quarter from the ILA.
Nardi complained that the commission has constantly changed sponsorship rules so that "it seems that every time we move forward and think we meet the goal line, it moves."
He said the NYSA supports the background and policing functions of the Waterfront Commission, but does not support its ability to control when the register for adding employees is opened or how many employees an employer may require.
The commission, in a press release, claimed that the NYSA and ILA have filed a federal lawsuit
against it "because it will not allow them to institutionalize discrimination through collective bargaining agreements, and has instead required them to hire in a fair and non-discriminatory manner."