January 24, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Charleston, S.C – As dockworkers in the Port of Charleston begin negotiating a new six-year contract, their union says it will make automation a key issue.
Ken Riley, president of International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1422, told the Charleston Post and Courier that his main priority will be ensuring that its about 1,200 members keep their jobs.
“New technology means you’re introducing something that will help me do my job more efficiently,” he said. “Automation means you’re eliminating my job.” The union’s local contract, with stevedore firms in the port, expired in 2012, and Riley said it needs to win a new one before the ILA’s master agreement for East Coast ports comes up for renewal in 2018. He also wants ILA workers to take over port jobs beyond just loading and unloading ships, such as operating cranes and moving cargo at the new Leatherman Terminal in North Charleston, scheduled to open in 2019. “If we plan to be around, as this port grows we want to grow with it,” he said. “When there are no ships, we’re pretty much dead. We can no longer afford to be relegated to just the ships.” Read more