Longshoremen solidarity strike shuts down Port of New York and New Jersey

Longshoremen solidarity strike shuts down Port of New York and New Jersey

Flying pickets have hit the Port of New York and New Jersey as Philadelphia longshore workers spread the dispute north. The following two stories cover the struggle of the workers who are defying a court injunction to respect the pickets.

28th September 2010 - All cargo terminals were closed at the Port of New York and New Jersey on Tuesday, due to a strike by members of the International Longshoremen's Association union, a spokesman said.

"It's a picket line put up by the ILA, and port workers are not crossing the line," said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority New York and New Jersey.

"We have every single type of commodity you can imagine. Furniture, beverages, clothing, automobiles, to name a few," Coleman said.

The port is the biggest coffee port in the United States and handles large amounts of metal from commodity exchanges in London and New York.

"The job action is related to a labor issue at the Port of Philadelphia. It has nothing to do with any labor issues at our port. It's more of a solidarity strike in connection with what's going on at the Port of Philadelphia," Coleman said.

About 200 members of the ILA in Philadelphia are set to lose their jobs by October 1, and they established the picket line in New York/New Jersey in solidarity, said Jim McNamara, spokesman for the ILA.

"I think they are also going to other areas of the country, Florida and Texas," McNamara said, adding that he could not confirm whether the strike was also taking place in Philadelphia.

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A federal judge ordered dock workers to go back to their jobs Tuesday following a wildcat strike that closed all area shipping ports.

Officials sought the injunction in Newark federal court after work ground to a halt when workers refused to cross picket lines set up to protest a labor dispute elsewhere.

"The actions by the \[International Longshoreman's Association\], in refusing to cross a non-bona-fide picket line, are a violation of the no-strike clause in our current collective bargaining agreement," said New York Shipping Association President James Curto.

Union spokesman James McNamara says the work stoppage is not officially sanctioned and amounted to a "wildcat" action.

He said union lawyers would meet late Tuesday to discuss what steps they would take in response to the judge's order.

Dock workers at Port of New York and New Jersey facilities refused to go to work Tuesday morning in solidarity with fellow union members from Camden, N.J., who set up picket lines outside.

"We just came on our own," said Camden dock worker Ed Reiman. "They are just honoring our picket line."

The work stoppage affected container facilities in Newark, Elizabeth, Bayonne, Staten Island and Brooklyn. The cruise passenger terminal in Manhattan was not affected.

The dispute stems from efforts by fruit-packing giant Del Monte to move its operation from the Camden port to one in Gloucester, N.J., whose workers are represented by a different union.

The action left 12 ships sitting idle, at the cost of $50,000 each a day for the owners of their contents, port officials said.

Before the judge's ruling, the Camden union members vowed to keep up their picket until the dispute was settled.

"We are going to stand here and fight until it's over," said Kevin Ohara. "We don't have jobs to go to."

Del Monte does not use Port of New York and New Jersey facilities, the shipping association said.

Posted By

Chilli Sauce
Sep 28 2010 21:15

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Chilli Sauce
Sep 28 2010 21:22

Just a bit more info:

The reason Del Monte is mentioned is because the strike in Philly kicked off when Del Monte decided to move it's facilities to a non-union port. The ILA union claims it will cost 200 jobs in Philadelphia.

Also, this is from the business side of the shipping industry:

Best Transportation, a port trucking firm in New Jersey told its customers that the walkout started in Port Elizabeth and Port Newark and quickly spread to Jersey City and Staten Island.

It said by mid -morning "all the ocean terminals and related facilities (empty yards, chassis depots etc.) were closed." It said ILA terminals in Philadelphia were also closed and that terminals in Baltimore were open but "this may change."

petey
Sep 28 2010 21:58

right, i chased that down to the daily news, other big nyc outlets are keeping it very quiet.

syndicalist
Sep 29 2010 02:15

Interesting. A couple of the ILA locals have "reform" leadership and others are more traditional leadership. So the wildcat is on the broad side, so it seems.

Here's a link to the Philly situation: http://lwcjustice.org/?p=361 and a link to the major longshore reform, the Longshore Workers Coalition, website: http://lwcjustice.org/

Schwarz
Sep 29 2010 03:53

Thanks for posting this as a news article, I didn't have time to expand on it before.

UPDATE:

According to a comrade in the ILA, nobody is sure if the strikers will obey the court injunction or not, but it is very possible the action will continue. There are certain sectors of the local that are very militant and may refuse to cross. We will find out tomorrow morning.

Things are chaotic and disorganized right now, but it appears that the action may have been led by someone in the union leadership up for the next election.

If the strike stands tomorrow morning some of us are heading to one of the picket lines to meet with our ILA friend. If anyone is interested in meeting us over there PM me.

From the news:

NEW YORK, Sept 28 (Reuters) - All cargo terminals were closed at the Port of New York and New Jersey on Tuesday, due to a strike by members of the International Longshoremen's Association union, a spokesman said.

"It's a picket line put up by the ILA, and port workers are not crossing the line," said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority New York and New Jersey.

"We have every single type of commodity you can imagine. Furniture, beverages, clothing, automobiles, to name a few," Coleman said.

The port is the biggest coffee port in the United States and handles large amounts of metal from commodity exchanges in London and New York.

...

About 200 members of the ILA in Philadelphia are set to lose their jobs by Oct. 1, and they established the picket line in New York/New Jersey in solidarity, said Jim McNamara, spokesman for the ILA.

"I think they are also going to other areas of the country, Florida and Texas," McNamara said, adding that he could not confirm whether the strike was also taking place in Philadelphia.

And from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

Pickets by members of the International Longshoremen's Association forced work stoppages at four ocean terminals in Port Elizabeth, Newark, and Bayonne, N.J. and Staten Island, N.Y., idling 12 ships and costing each carrier about $50,000 a day, said the New York Shipping Association.

"We haven't had anything like this is over 25 years," said spokeswoman Beverly Fedorko. "Think about the ripple effect, the trucks, and all the other companies that depend on the port for their livelihood, and the 270,000 employees. It's quite an economic reach."

petey
Sep 29 2010 14:44

most recent (4 am) from the NYDN:

Quote:
The International Longshoremen's Association said the job action was not sanctioned and that union members were acting on their own.

Dockworkers refused to cross pickets in Elizabeth, N.J.; Newark; Bayonne, N.J.; Staten Island, and Brooklyn set up by union members from Camden, N.J., who were protesting a labor dispute there.

"We just came on our own," said Camden dockworker Ed Reiman. "They are just honoring our picket line."

Schwarz
Sep 29 2010 15:38

As of this morning the strike remains on! Looks like it could last at least through the week.

We are heading down tomorrow morning. I'll try and throw together a report back on it and try to get more info from our ILA friend ASAP.

Chilli Sauce
Sep 29 2010 16:17

Yeah, def do so! Get us an interview and we can get that bad boy in the Libcom library and in the Industrial Worker (if you don't mind).

Schwarz
Sep 29 2010 20:01

It shall be done!

Update:

Walkout in solidarity with protest against pending shipper move to non-ILA terminal

The two-day work stoppage at all six container terminals in the Port of New York and New Jersey spread to Baltimore and Philadelphia at midday on Wednesday.

ILA Local 1291 in Philadelphia, whose pickets at the container terminals in New York harbor caused work stoppages there Tuesday and Wednesday, said ILA workers in Baltimore would walk off the job Wednesday at noon.

It said the walkout is in "solidarity" with the union's protest against the pending move by Del Monte Fresh Produce of 75 ship calls a year from an ILA terminal in Camden, N.J., to a non-ILA facility in Gloucester, N.J., that is owned by the Holt family.

ILA members were also picketing the Packer Avenue Marine Terminal in Philadelphia Wednesday, preventing the unloading of a Hamburg Sud container ship. Longshoremen reported for work at 7 a.m., encountered the pickets, and would not enter.

Also, the NY Times finally got on it.

Schwarz
Sep 29 2010 20:24

Update:

As of an hour ago the wildcat strike has ended. Del Monte Corporation has agreed to sit down and negotiate with the ILA. More updates to follow. In the meantime, here is a great background article from Labor Notes:

Wildcat Strikes Halt East Coast Shipping

Chilli Sauce
Sep 30 2010 21:38


NY-NJ Port Struggles to Clear Strike Backlog

http://www.joc.com/maritime/ny-nj-port-struggles-clear-strike-backlog

Drivers to work Saturday to catch up on 10,000-11,000 truck moves

Container terminals and port trucking companies in the Port of New York and New Jersey were still struggling Thursday in foul weather to clear out the backlog of containers that was piled up at the piers after a two-day work stoppage by dockworkers.

Port truck drivers will have to work and terminals stay open on Saturday to get caught up on the 10,000-11,000 truck moves that could not be done during the shutdown, which started Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. and ended Wednesday afternoon after local chapters of the International Longshoremen's Association faced the possibility of being hit with steep fines for failing to comply with a restraining order issued by a federal district judge in Newark on Tuesday.

"This was an illegal strike," said Jeff Bader, president of Golden Carriers, a New Jersey port drayage company, and of the Bi-State Motor Carriers Association. "There was no reason to affect the Port of New York and New Jersey."

Bader said his drivers had gone home on Tuesday and Wednesday because they couldn't work, losing two days of pay. "Now we're paying for it because we have four- to five- hour turn times today. There was no reason for it when the economy's such a fragile thing." He said 240,000 people working in the port were affected by the strike.

The work stoppage was conducted with no orders to do so from either the international union or its locals, ILA spokesman Jim McNamara said. The members are supporting each other, he said.

The work stoppage was caused by picket lines set up Tuesday morning by members of ILA locals from Philadelphia, who were protesting the pending moved by Del Monte Fresh Produce of 75 ship calls a year from an ILA terminal in Camden, N.J. to a non-ILA facility in Gloucester, N.J. that is owned by the Holt family.

The Philadelphia ILA claimed the move by Del Monte will cost the union 200 jobs.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey had issued permits to the Philadelphia dockworkers to picket the terminals in New York, but they were joined by local New York-New Jersey ILA members, who did not have permits, according to Jim Devine, president and CEO of the New York Container Terminal on Staten Island.

"I told my dockworkers this was a stupid idiotic move on the part of (ILA Executive Vice President) Harold Daggett," said Devine. "That's why they went out." Devine called the union action an "illegal work stoppage."

“That’s absolutely not true. Jim Devine should be careful how he uses my name,” Daggett responded. He denied that the pickets were orchestrated by the ILA. “Members from Philadelphia were upset about 200 people losing their jobs because Holt is trying to bust the ILA. They came up here and put up a picket line and the men here chose not to go across. No union man wants to cross a picket line.”

The NYCT was still working off the cargo from two ships docked at the terminal, an APL ship from the Suez Express Service and an NYK vessel from the Grand Alliance.

Devine said the work stoppage was not a wildcat strike, but was orchestrated by the ILA at the national level to put pressure on the Holt organization in Philadelphia by "striking those terminals in new York that service the steamship lines that work in Philadelphia at Holt's union pier and cause them disruption in New York so that they would pick up the phone and call Holt and say 'stop doing what you're doing.'"

He said the ILA flyers targeted Mediterranean Shipping Line, Hamburg Sud and Maersk Line, the carriers that call at the Holt organization's Packer Avenue Terminal in Philadelphia, which the Philadelphia ILA was also picketing.

Devine said the ILA in New York and New Jersey decided to end the work stoppage on Wednesday when they learned that the management of the terminals and the New York Shipping Association planned to return to the federal district court in Newark to ask Judge Dickinson Debevoise to impose penalties of $1 million a day on the New York New Jersey ILA locals for every day on which they did not comply with his restraining order and return to work.

Chilli Sauce
Sep 30 2010 21:41

And this worrying (though not surprising) revelation:

Quote:
The situation was resolved when the International Longshoremen's Association convinced the picketers to leave by promising to press harder for a resolution to their situation.

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/09/30/2010-09-30_ports_back_in_biz_after_strike_ends.html

Chilli Sauce
Sep 30 2010 21:45

Finally, I found this interview, but my flash player is broken, so I know nothing of the content. It's from the "Journal of Commerce", so someone please let me know if it's shite....

petey
Sep 30 2010 22:08

it's short, the member hits both the ILA bargainers and the companies.

Quote:
shite

going native?

syndicalist
Oct 2 2010 00:06
Quote:
The ITF-affiliated International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), which has been representing the Del Monte workers based on Camden docks, New Jersey, for the past 22 years, was asked earlier this year by Del Monte to cut labour costs by US$5 million. It imposed a four-day deadline on the ILA to meet its demands.

The employees at the terminal had not had a pay rise for 19 years, but agreed to reduce their wages by up to 25 per cent, cut staffing, and forfeit benefits. As a result, they were able to make the US5 million saving.

Despite these concessions, Del Monte served notice that it was moving to a Gloucester, New Jersey facility.
...

http://www.itfglobal.org/news-online/index.cfm/newsdetail/5166/

Schwarz
Oct 3 2010 22:38

The interview I spoke of is in process and should be completed by next week. I'll post it ASAP.

Chilli Sauce
Oct 4 2010 15:59

Sweet...

Steven.
Oct 4 2010 16:29

yeah great, thanks. Thanks also syndicalist for that interesting extra bit of information

Hieronymous
Oct 6 2010 08:18

O.K., maybe this was a test to challenge our working class knowledge. But the map at the top of the news post is the Port of Long Beach, in California not any of the East Coast ports where the wildcats occurred.

Here's another map to prove it: http://www.polb.com/facilities/maps/terminal.asp

Chilli Sauce
Oct 6 2010 16:12

Shit, well I'll take responsibility for that...and then turn around and blame it on a google search. My bad.

Chilli Sauce
Oct 6 2010 16:17

Update submitted for moderation. New pic courtesty of Local 1291.

Gary Rumor
Oct 8 2010 01:32

What is happening with the Wildcat and the negotiations with Del Monte? I have seen nothing in the news since the 29th of Sept. Obviously the ILA site has nothing. But even the support sites have nothing. Anybody in on the skinny here? I want to post an update on my blog. Garyrumor.com

Chilli Sauce
Nov 22 2010 18:26

Doesn't look good....

November 22 Day of Action in Philadelphia, Florida and Texas to protest union busting by Fresh Del Monte Produce N.A. Inc.

http://ila1291.org/node/4555

PHILADELPHIA--Protesting the loss of 200 union longshore jobs in the Port of Philadelphia, Friends and Families of International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) Local 1291 will rally November 22 against Fresh Del Monte Produce N.A. Inc. in downtown Philadelphia and at Fresh Del Monte facilities in Manatee-Palmetto and Coral Gables, Florida., as well as Galveston, Texas.

These actions—along with a call for a boycott from the ILA—comes in response to Fresh Del Monte's decision to shift work from the terminal worked by ILA Local 1291 members in Camden, N.J., to a private facility where wages are approximately half the levels paid to ILA members.

Fresh Del Monte made this move even though government authorities offered $25 million in infrastructure improvements, additional acreage for the terminal at no cost and a near 50 percent reduction on electricity bills. In addition, the ILA responded by offering labor concessions worth $5 million. Even so, on October 1, Del
Monte directed fruit shipments to a Gloucester, N.J., terminal owned by the Holt family.

read more <http://www.transportworkers.org/node/1661>