USMX CEO Urges ILA to Bargain in Good FaithMay 31, 2012
DATE: May 31, 2012
TO: USMX Members
FROM: James A. Capo, Chairman & CEO
RE: USMX-ILA Negotiations Update
When negotiations began in March between the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) and the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), I expressed confidence that the two sides could reach agreement on a new contract without any disruption to the supply chain and our port operations. Management’s goal in these negotiations was a straightforward one: maintaining our competitive position and market share by improving productivity and efficiency. While I remain hopeful that we can achieve that goal, the union president, Harold Daggett, appears to be less-than-committed to engaging in meaningful bargaining that for decades has characterized our negotiations and successfully resulted in several new contracts.
Mr. Daggett has put forth several demands, or “hurdles,” as he calls them, but has adamantly refused to negotiate or even discuss these or any other issues at the bargaining table unless management first agrees to his demands. That’s hardly good faith bargaining, in which the process gives both sides an opportunity to voice their concerns and present their proposals.
Much of what Mr. Daggett is demanding would reduce productivity, increase congestion, and add unnecessary costs at the East and Gulf Coast ports.
For example, on the issue of technology, the ILA president is demanding that management guarantee a job for any worker, even if the new technology eliminates the need for the position. What he apparently fails to recognize is that the current Collective Bargaining Agreement mandates that both sides negotiate over the impact new technology might have on the work force. Thus, issues like reassignment, retraining and severance would all be subject to negotiation.
We all understand how important the implementation of technology is to the future of the ports. We must deploy new technology to modernize our ports so they can attract and handle increased volumes of cargo. That, in turn, will make the ports more competitive and help create more work and jobs for ILA members.
And these are good jobs. On average, ILA workers receive $124,138 a year in wages and benefits, putting them among the most highly compensated workers in the country. They earn an average hourly wage of $50, more than double the $23.19 average for all U.S. union workers. And they pay no premiums and minimal co-pays and deductibles for a healthcare plan that is better than most U.S. employers provide their workers.
Another of the ILA’s demands – that chassis pool operators join USMX and agree to be bound by the Master Contract – would be impossible to achieve because USMX cannot legally force the pool operators to become members of the Alliance. In any event, the pool operators have already agreed to continue to use ILA members to maintain and repair chassis and to honor ILA jurisdiction where it is currently in place. We have no reason to believe they will not continue to honor that agreement.
On the issue of container weights, the ILA president is demanding that all import containers be weighed at the pier before being released. This would create more unneeded work, add unnecessary expense and increase congestion at the ports.
We have now heard from the three largest associations representing our customers: The Retail Industry Leaders Association, The Waterfront Coalition, and the National Retail Federation. All have expressed concerns from their members regarding Mr. Daggett’s May 25, 2012 letter to the ILA and the lack of progress in negotiations. I believe that unless meaningful bargaining resumes, they will begin
USMX remains committed to fostering a climate of cooperation between management and labor that has helped grow the cargo business at the ports while providing jobs for ILA members. As Chairman and CEO of USMX, I stand ready to engage in substantive negotiations with the ILA and would urge the union president not to impose any preconditions on negotiations before coming to the bargaining table.
To download and view this memo as a pdf, please click here.