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September 14, 2018 3:00 PM, EDT

Longshoremen, Port Group Reach Six-Year Labor Agreement

Port of Jacksonville, Fla. TT file photo

Members of the U.S. Maritime Alliance said they have ratified a new six-year contract with the International Longshoremen’s Association, the largest union of maritime workers in North America.

USMX serves ports along the Eastern and Gulf coasts from Maine to Texas. Container carriers, direct employers and port associations make up the alliance.

Approval of the contract, announced Sept. 11, came five days after the longshoremen voted overwhelmingly in favor of the agreement. As many as 16,000 longshoremen are covered under the new agreement.

“We are pleased with the outcome of the USMX ratification of what we consider to be a fair and equitable contract benefiting not only our members, the (beneficial cargo owner) and supply chain partners, but also for the ILA and their families,” USMX CEO David Adam said in a statement. “Most importantly it will allow us to continue moving and growing our cargo and will ensure continued labor peace in our ports.”

The new contract was wrapped up more than two weeks before the current USMX-ILA agreement was due to expire on Sept. 30.

Specific details of the contract have not been made public.

“Though the master contract has been ratified by both parties, unfortunately, I cannot provide you with any details of the new agreement beyond the ratification notification,” said Beth Monica, spokeswoman for USMX, “as they have not yet been made public.”

However, the ILA told Transport Topics the agreement will “bring generous pay increases” along with “landmark protections against job-killing fully automated ports.”

“This is a great day for the ILA and our union membership,” said ILA President Harold Daggett. “The ILA has negotiated an extension that not only protects the benefits you already have but also enhances these benefits to ensure that you are compensated appropriately for all your hard work.”

“I am particularly pleased with the jurisdictional protections that the ILA has negotiated that will ensure that your jobs will be preserved in the years ahead. I believe that this proposed extension represents a giant step forward in the collective bargaining history of the ILA,” he added.

Daggett said this is the best contract he ever has been involved with in his 50-plus-year career in the labor movement.

Industry reaction is optimistic.

“The port industry was very pleased with the ratification of the six-year agreement and the long-term stability it provides,” American Association of Port Authorities president Kurt Nagle told Transport Topics. “Ports look forward to continuing to work with labor, terminal operators and the rest of the maritime community to deliver U.S. exports and the raw materials, supplies and goods for American manufacturers, farmers and consumers.”

The new contract begins Oct. 1 and will run through Sept. 30, 2024.