Talks between the International Longshoremen’s Association and New York Shippers’ Association over a local contract for New York and New Jersey dockworkers abruptly broke down Wednesday when ILA representatives walked out of the meeting.
The breakdown reportedly centered on work rules changes proposed by the employers that were unpalatable for the dockworkers’ union, after the two sides opened discussions Wednesday.
It follows what seemed to be positive momentum last week
, when the two sides agreed over the once-contentious issue of container royalties.
The ILA and management, represented in coast-wide talks by the U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX), have until a Feb. 6 deadline to reach agreement on a new contract for longshoremen at ports from Texas to Maine. The deadline, however, has twice been postponed since the end of September as the two sides try to reach an uneasy agreement.
“It’s unfortunate that the ILA refuses to bargain issues that are important to the future success of the Port of New York and New Jersey, namely productivity, excessive manning and archaic work practices,” said NYSA Chief Labor Negotiator Joseph Curto, in a statement.
“Management came to this meeting ready to bargain. We were – and are – prepared to discuss ideas suggested by the ILA. But by walking out of today’s session, the ILA leadership demonstrated its unwillingness to engage in a serious conversation about the changes necessary to ensure the viability of the Port of New York and New Jersey," he said.
“Although today’s session ended abruptly, NYSA believes there is still time to reach an agreement on a local contract before the current contract extension expires on Feb. 6. We remain committed to reaching an agreement and are hopeful that we can get back to the bargaining table,” Curto added.
ILA representatives were not immediately available for comment.
Coast-wide negotiations were planned for next week
, but it's unclear how today's events might affect those discussions. - Eric Johnson