No deal as longshoremen labor dispute continues
Thursday, 23 January 2014 14:16

90-day cooling off period ended last Friday

by Nicole Rodman

    A deal has not yet been reached in the ongoing labor dispute between the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) Local 333 and the Steamship Trade Association  of Baltimore (STA), according to news reports.
    ILA Local 333 represents a portion of the longshoremen working at the Port of Baltimore. The STA, the trade organization representing shippers operating at the port, hires the longshoremen to work at the port facilities.
    The dispute came to a head last October when union members declared a strike after negotiations between the union and the STA broke down.
    At issue are the terms of a new contract. The previous contract expired in 2010.
    The contract at the center of the dispute is a local contract, covering only certain items such as automobiles and paper. The local contract only covers workers at the Port of Baltimore.
    A master contract, agreed on last year by the ILA and the United States Maritime Alliance, covers other cargo, such as construction and farm equipment. The master contract applies to workers all along the East Coast.
    Three days into last October’s strike, an arbitrator ruled that the strike was not valid since it affected cargo covered under the master contract.
    At that point, both the union and the STA agreed to a 90-day cooling off period. During this time, longshoremen resumed work as negotiations continued.
    Though the 90-day period expired last Friday, an agreement has not yet been reached.
    While negotiations on a new contract are ongoing, ILA Local 333 officials have indicated publicly that there will not be another strike.
    Likewise, Michael Angelos, president of the STA, noted that workers would not be locked out.
    Regardless of when an agreement is reached, the ongoing uncertainty is already affecting business at the port.
    According to port spokesman Richard Scher, some shippers have been diverting cargo to other ports as the dispute rages on.
    In an effort to advance negotiations, the national ILA has been called in to assist local union officials.
    “The ILA and Atlantic Coast District [ACD] have been asked to participate and assist ILA Local 333 with their negotiations with Steamship Trade Association of Baltimore,” ILA spokesman James A. McNamara told The Eagle on Monday. “We intend to offer that help.”
    McNamara declined to offer further details on negotiations.
    Neither ILA Local 333 president Riker McKenzie or STA president Michael Angelos was available for comment by press time.