A strike by members of the International Longshoremen's Association
shut down the Port of Baltimore's public terminals on Wednesday and was
continuing on Thursday.
Richard Scher, a spokesman for the Maryland Port Administration, said
ships at the port's public marine terminals were not being worked. Work
on five ships was idled on Wednesday. Private terminals that handle
commodities such as coal, sugar and salt remain open.
Scher said mediators were to meet with representatives from Local 333
of the ILA and employers represented by the Steamship Trade Association
(STA) of Baltimore on Thursday.
While ILA union members approved a national master contract in
April, ILA members were continuing to negotiate local Baltimore issues
with the STA.
Local 333, which represents Longshoremen and Cargo Repairmen and is
the largest local in the port, said its members went on strike after
its members "soundly rejected" a local contract. Three other ILA locals
in Baltimore have approved local contracts.
In a press release, the union said its members were "protesting the
companies’ refusal to negotiate in good faith over a new contract
covering the workers terms and conditions of employment." Local 333 said
it had filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board against
"Despite Local 333’s efforts to negotiate an agreement, which
included mediation under the auspices of Federal Mediation and
Conciliation Service, the STA has refused to bargain over subjects that
are mandatory under the law, and has engaged in other conduct inimical
to reaching agreement," Local 333 said in its press release.
The union was "eager to enter into a new contract with the STA,"
said Local 333 President Riker McKenzie. "We cannot accept STA’s refusal
to negotiate over matters that the law requires them to negotiate."
Neither McKenzie nor Michael P. Angelos, the president of the STA,
were immediately available for comment on exactly what the issues
preventing an agreement were.
Scher noted that the Maryland Port Authority is not involved in the
negotiations, but the agency said in a statement it "continues to
strongly encourage both sides to reach an agreement."
The American Association of Port Authorities says in 2012, Baltimore
handled 677,876 TEU, making it the 16th busiest container port in the
country. Baltimore is also a leading port for roll-on, roll-off cargo
and bulk cargo. In terms of cargo volume, 33.4 million tons of
waterborn foreign trade moved through the Baltimore Customs district,
making it the 12 busiest in the nation, according to Census Bureau
statistics cited by the AAPA.