March 27, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
Newark, NJ—Longshoremen with the International Longshoremen’s Association rallied at the Port Newark-Elizabeth Marine Terminal on Tuesday to demand the Waterfront Commission of New York speed up the hiring process. The commission, in turn, says the longshoremen’s claim that it’s stalling to hire is unequivocally and demonstrably false. Video
The ILA and the Waterfront Commission have been at loggerheads for the past several months over how best to hire new longshoremen in order to reduce a labor shortage on the waterfront.
The union, along with the New York Shipping Association, which represents terminal operators and negotiates collective bargaining agreements with the ILA, wants the flexibility to refer and hire new workers.
But according to a Waterfront Commission statement on its website the union and the shipping association must hire in a “fair and non-discriminatory manner.”
The commission claims minorities and women have been excluded from union membership and employment opportunities and that NYSA’s and the union’s recruiting and training practices are diminishing opportunities for military veterans.
Charles J. Daggett, ILA’s president, vigorously refutes those claims. He said outside the Maher Terminals that the ILA successfully bargained to enhance diversity in the current contract, which was signed last year and expires in five years.
“We want to hire American veterans, men and women who won purple hearts defending our country, but we are being denied [by the Commission],” Daggett said.
John Nardi, NYSA’s president, supports the commission’s background check and policing functions to deter individuals with criminal records from applying, but Nardi believes the commission is slowing down the hiring process.
“It took five months to hire one person in this port. We can’t survive on those conditions. We need to be able to hire the people when we need them, and we know how many people we need, said Nardi.
Also joining the ILA and the shipping industry in calling for the Waterfront Commission to speed up the hiring were New Jersey Senator Raymond J. Lesniak, the NJ Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Bracken, and trade organizations such as the NJ Motor Truck Association, NJ Retail Merchants Association and Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers.
When asked in an interview if this type of coalition of labor, business and legislators was unprecedented on the waterfront, Daggett said yes.
“Management and union worked out a six-year contract, six years without a strike, but the commission is trying to tear it apart by wanting to do away with our hiring agents. They’re trying to interfere with our contract,” said Daggett.
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