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1/29/2016 12:00:00 PM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Job Action Halts New York-New Jersey Port Trucking

Craig Warga/Bloomberg News

All truck traffic at the Port of New York and New Jersey, the third-largest U.S. port, was halted the morning of Jan. 29 by a labor action, just as carriers were trying to catch up with a storm-related cargo backlog.

The port agency posted the notice of the action by the International Longshoremen’s Association on the agency’s website. In addition, Gail Toth, executive director of the New Jersey Motor Truck Association, confirmed that freight moves at the terminals stopped.

“It’s a real mess up there,” she told Transport Topics. “Our guys were all told to go home. Some of them were even stuck in the terminals.”

Cargo again began flowing across the docks earlier this week, as some terminals reopened as early as Jan. 25 after the blizzard that hit the Northeast last weekend. Toth said that cargo was returning to a more normal flow until the stoppage, which could be linked to a hiring dispute relating to maintenance workers between the union and the New York Waterfront Commission. That group, which didn’t respond to requests for comment, controls hiring of all types of dockworkers in the region, even though the union members work under the terms of a contract with the New York Shipping Association. NYSA includes terminal operators and ocean carriers that use and operate facilities at the busiest East Coast port.

On an average working day, the port facilities process close to 25,000 industry-standard container units. “In the meantime, Port Authority police are actively working to ensure public safety for all of the stakeholders at the port,” the agency said in a statement. “All efforts to resume activity will be undertaken.” 

James McNamara, a spokesman for ILA, said workers told him they walked off because of interference by the Waterfront Commission in the collective bargaining agreement between ILA and NYSA.

“They say they’re concerned about their own future jobs because a lot of their fellow members are being harassed by the Waterfront Commission, being subjected to drug tests that aren’t part of the agreement between the ILA and the New York Shipping Association,” McNamara said in a telephone interview.

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