Six maritime unions have formed a new group called the Maritime Labor Alliance.
The six unions are the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) and its affiliate, International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots (MM&P), Marine Engineer's Beneficial Association (MEBA), and International Longshore and Warehouse Union and two of its affiliates, American Radio Association and Inland Boatmen's Union.
Meeting this Wednesday in Washington, the unions said they had received a briefing from ILA President Harold Daggett on the status of negotiations for a new contract. The master contract between the ILA and employer group U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX) expires at the end of this month.
"Contingency plans regarding these negotiations were discussed and mutual support pledged," the unions said.
The ILA and USMX are slated to restart negotiation next week with the assistance of a federal mediator.
James McNamara, an ILA spokesman, said MM&P and MEBA had proposed forming the alliance because of concerns about jurisdictional battles with other unions seeking their members' jobs.
McNamara noted both the longshore unions have also had jurisdictional disputes with other unions at some terminals, including the International Union Operation Engineers and Seafarers International Union.
Members of the new alliance said they "pledged their mutual support to defeat attacks on bona fide labor
unions by organizations intent on undercutting working conditions and
displacing incumbent workers."
Also at the meeting was Paddy Crumlin, president of the International Transport Workers Federation.
McNamara said Crumlin was interested in getting an update on the ILA's negotiations with USMX on issues having to do with port automation and the repair and maintenance of chassis, noting these are issues that affect longshoremen throughout the world. - Chris Dupin