Representatives for the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) and their employers are continuing to hold negotiation sessions in an attempt to reach agreement on local contract issues in New York and other ports.
A post on the union's Facebook page Wednesday said the union and New York Shipping Association (NYSA), the group that represents employers in the Port of New York and New Jersey, "engaged in intense negotiations for (the) third day" and other port areas were also still meeting.
Union spokesman Jim McNamara said Thursday morning New York area talks had continued past 8 p.m. Wednesday and the two sides had agreed to continue meeting Thursday, beginning at around 11 a.m.
McNamara described the meetings as a "rollercoaster ride."
Earlier in the week, various shipping industry executives, some of whom attended the Journal of Commerce
's TPM Conference in Long Beach, Calif., expressed dismay over reports they were hearing about lack of progress on the local talks.
On Feb. 1, the ILA and the U.S. Maritime Alliance announced they had reached tentative agreement on a new, six-year master contract covering about 14,500 ILA workers at 14 East and Gulf coast ports, and the two sides agreed to keep ports operating normally while negotiations on local contract issues continued. The agreement is subject to
formal ratification by both sides and to the successful conclusion of
negotiations on local contracts.
The ILA scheduled meetings of its "wage scale delegates" - the 200-plus members who will vote on whether to recommend the contract to the full membership - next week, from Tuesday, March 12, through Thursday, March 14.
The ILA's contract with employers represented by USMX expired last September, but the two sides agreed to continue negotiations assisted by members of the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). After several extension they reached a deal and avoided any sort of work stoppage.
After the master contract agreement was reached, the two sides gave themselves until March 1 to finish local talks; then agreed to a further extension until March 8 "to coincide with the Wage Scale Meetings."
As with the master contract negotiations, federal mediators are trying to assist the NYSA and ILA in reaching agreement.
It's not clear what would happen if the Wage Scale Delegates begin meeting without local contract negotiations having been completed.
The New York talks are thought to be particularly challenging because employers are seeking to reform long-standing work rules that drive up the cost of handling containerized freight in the busiest port on the U.S. East Coast. - Chris Dupin