The contract between the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) expires on September 30, 2018. A top leader from the ILA has confirmed he is confident the negotiations will go well and that an agreement will be made prior to the current contract’s expiration. The ILA, representing East and Gulf Coast maritime workers did voice a threat of a work stoppage earlier this year but currently the outlook is much more stable.
The ILA president has repeatedly stated the plan to conclude local contract negotiations prior to closing the master contract meaning that all port specific concerns will be addressed prior to closing the East and Gulf Coast master contract.
Local contracts are in different stages of negotiations, for example the port of New York and New Jersey are not as far along as the West Gulf. The West Gulf is using an “interest based” bargaining technique in hopes to find common issues and develop solutions that both sides can agree upon.
Automation is going to be the main topic of concern. ILA leaders have used automation as a motivator for employees stating that if operations are smooth and efficient the USMX will not pursue automation. The ILA recognizes that unless they eliminate inefficiencies, automation will take jobs away from the ports.
For beneficial cargo owners, the fact that the ILA is optimistic about coming to an agreement without any issues is excellent news. The threat of a work stoppage earlier this year was a real concern as this coast wide strike would have had detrimental consequences to supply chains. Cargo owners should be aware that negotiations are underway and be prepared for any possible strikes or work slowdowns but as of today it appears all operations should remain stable as the new contracts are created.