September 28, 2010

Breaking News: ILA Checkers shut-down Port Newark! (Update)

UPDATE: Since Monday morning, many ILA members have added additional photos, including the one from Bayonne tacked on at the end of the blog entry. Also updated is an additional news link to an article from the Journal of Commerce:

Early in the morning on September 28, union members represented by the International Longshoremen's Association Local 1291 began informational leafleting at Port Newark—Elizabeth Port, and with the support of ILA Checkers Local 1, who declined to check ordered longshoremen on their various piers, the informational work slowdown spread to every terminal in Newark and Elizabeth, New Jersey.

On Thursday, July 22, 2010, Del Monte Fresh Produce, NA demanded $5 million in labor cost reductions from the International Longshoremen's Association and approximately $25 million in infrastructure improvements from the State of New Jersey (Del Monte operation is on the Camden, NJ side of the Port of Philadelphia). While ILA Local 1291 agreed to meet these onerous demands in hoping to save 200 family sustaining jobs. The State of New Jersey also acted quickly and offered but a modification package and an extended lease to Del Monte on Pier 5 in Camden, but Del Monte imposed an unrealistic four-day deadline on their demands. Now they've served notice of their intent to move to a non-union facility in Gloucester City, NJ. To quote the leaflet distributed at terminals in Newark and Elizabeth, NJ, "the workers lose, the employers lose, and the states on both sides of the Delaware River lose."

Camden Local 1291 members report the Holt Logistics (owned, along with Packers Avenue Marine Terminal, by Leo Hot) is the source the dispute. See the Philadelphia Inquirer and Transport Workers Solidarity Committee for more information. Holt claims that his Gloucester Terminals is "fully unionized" holding contracts with an organization called "Dockworkers Union Local #1," but these so-called labor agreements pay workers $12 an hour with no benefits. Holt Logistics will also save money by ignoring the Port of Philadelphia's safety-based rule requiring that all vessels arrive accompanied by two tug boats.

At Fire on the Mountain, we have seen this kind of attempt at union-busting before, in the Port of Charlestown, North Carolina (see Charleston 5). Most of today's entry revolves around Port Newark/Elizabethport. The pictures  are all from APM Terminals, but the photo below is from Bayonne, near Global Terminals, taken by a Newark ILA member ordered to a car ship in that port.

See todays article about Del Monte dispute in the Journal of Commerce.


ILA Local 1233 member said...

See the Star Ledger's NJ.COM Star Ledger for more news coverage. In addition to the Howland Hook container terminal on Staten Island that the story reports on, Global Terminal in Bayonne New Jersey was also shut down today, as well as Port Newark Container and Maher Terminals in Newark, NJ.

Anonymous said...

The job action in support of Camden, NJ ILA members in the Port of Philadelphia continues into Wednesday. Workers with 7 PM orders last night found picketlines maintained by Longshoremen's Maintenance Local members up at APM Terminals and similar pickets this morning at Maher Terminals. See last night's news story at NY Times.

Anonymous said...

I think you are wrong characterizing this strike as enabled by ILA Local 1 (Checkers). The mechanics from the Maintenance Local are the real heroes. We've refused to report to work, and shut the port by not starting the big ship-to-shore cranes.

Jimmy Higgins said...

I will leave it to Rahim to make an informed comment here on which Local gets the the biggest ups here, but as on who remembers the NYC bridge tenders strike of 1970, I'm certainly prepared to listen to the Maintenance mechanics' argument...

Rahim on the Docks said...

UPDATE (Weds. September 29, approx. 1:15 PM):

A phone call from a friend picketing Maher Terminals at Port Newark indicate that the mechanics have packed up and gone in to work. A second confirmation call, and we know the strike is over. More details as available…

[and yes, Anon (2) you are correct, in was ILA Maintenance Local 1804-1 which did yeoman's work in this strike at at APM Terminals and Maher Terminal in Port Elizabeth, N.J., the Port Newark Container Terminal, Global Marine Terminal in Bayonne, N.J., the New York Container Terminal on Staten Island, and the Red Hook Container Terminal in Brooklyn]

ILA Local 1233 member said...

Nearly a week after the wildcat strike in support of Philly-based ILA Local 1291, there is still considerable confusion among dockworkers in the Port of New York & New Jersey about the terms under which the men and women in Brooklyn, Staten Island, Bayonne, Newark and Elizabeth returned to work. The ILA International has issued the statement below:

ILA Asks Pickets To Leave Various Terminals and Normal Operations Expected To Resume; ILA Will Meet With USMX and NYSA To Address Loss of Jobs.

Aware of the concerns of the rank-and-file members and sensitive to the impact of the picketing on the industry, the ILA has convinced the individual pickets to leave the various terminals in the port of New York and New Jersey. The ILA promised the pickets that it would meet immediately with United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) and New York Shipping Association (NYSA) representatives to address the loss of jobs. It is anticipated that as soon as the pickets leave, normal operations will resume.

The ILA recognizes the frustration of its members resulting from the disingenuous contract negotiating of Del Monte and the predatory pricing actions of Holt. Del Monte asked for and received major concessions from the ILA during contract renewal negotiations. Despite meeting Del Monte’s demands, the ILA lost the contract to Holt whose predatory pricing displaces family jobs and creates a class or working poor. The ILA has lost more than 200 jobs as a result of this action.

The ILA International offices have apparently called upon the AFL-CIO to build and extend a major boycott of Del Monte food products, as well as calling on the nationwide employers' organization USMX and the local New York area employers of the NYSA to intercede with Del Monte and their Camden, NJ-based surrogate Holt Marine Terminals.