With rank-and-file members of the International Longshoremen’s Association scheduled to vote on April 9 on whether to ratify a new six-year contract negotiated by the union’s leadership with employers represented by the U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX), the union said its President Harold J. Daggett is planning an overseas expansion and making the union “a national and global force.”
In a press release issued by the dockworkers yesterday, Daggett said “Our organizing mission will go global. We will really make our union an international one like we’ve never seen before.”
Daggett said he plans to create an ILA Steering Committee made up of representatives from the International and the union’s two districts – the Atlantic Coast District and the South Atlantic and Gulf Coast District – to evaluate the union’s strengths and weaknesses, including its structure, finances, political and public affairs agendas and affiliations with other labor and maritime organizations.
The union said “one of the most important goals of the new ILA steering committee will be to improve and strengthen the union’s organizing efforts, both in the United States and globally."
With expansion of the Panama Canal, the ILA "sees growth on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, but also at places like the Bahamas, Central America, Jamaica and other areas.” The amount of transshipment activity at ports in the Caribbean is expected to increase after the Panama Canal is expanded.
“Out of our difficult negotiations on a new Master Contract, the ILA has come to understand how important it is for us to be strong in our structure, strong in our finances and strong to face the multitude of challenges that we’ll face in the future. Our ILA steering committee will examine ways to get us there.”
The union said “Negotiating a new Master Contract proved to be a costly venture for the ILA, but necessary to bring about a landmark agreement. At the outset of negotiations, the ILA commissioned a thorough industry study from Cornell University, which armed the union with important information, and financial data that enhanced the ILA’s bargaining position. The new ILA Master Contract was hammered out over a period of 12 months involving a series of negotiating sessions with the full 200-member ILA Wage Scale delegates and also the smaller 20-man committee. Both the International and ILA Locals spent a good amount of resources on travel and hotel expenses over the course of a year."
“With the protections and improvements we achieved in this new Master Contract, the investment was well spent,” Daggett said. “Now, we have to stay ahead of our management counterparts at USMX when it comes to knowledge about our industry. Our newly formed steering committee is the first step in the future where we will examine all ways we can better serve our membership.” - Chris Dupin