The United States Maritime Alliance, representing employers of around 15,000 US East and Gulf Coast port workers, has launched preliminary talks on a new contract with the International Longshoremen’s Association, representing the dockworkers, writes the Wall Street Journal.
The move has been interpreted as a way of steering clear of potential hurdles similar to those that arose during contract talks between dockworkers’ representatives of the West Coast ports and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) that dragged along for nine months causing delays and port congestion.
The striking of a new deal is further encouraged by the fact that East Coast ports have benefited considerably from the West Coast congestion with shippers switching their operations to East Coast, thus bringing in more cargo. Having the new deal in place sooner rather than latter would put shippers at ease ruling out the possibility of losing the cargo inflow.
According to Jim McNamara, an ILA spokesman, cited by WSJ, the talks would cover topics such as health care benefits, compensation for longshoremen who lost their jobs due to increasing port automation, maintenance of the ports’ chassis and the union’s jurisdiction in ports like Charleston, S.C. and Savannah, Ga., where certain crane operators and dockworkers are not unionized.
The five-year agreement that was signed in 2013 expires in 2018.
World Maritime News Staff