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East Coast Dockworkers’ Warning: Ready to Strike!

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East Coast Dockworkers’ Warning: Ready to Strike!

2024-06-26

Recently, the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), the largest maritime workers' union in the United States, has suspended the labor contract negotiations originally scheduled for June 11 with the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) due to disputes over automation.

ILA President Harold Daggett has warned all parties that union members will go on strike if an agreement is not reached before the contract expires.

Daggett has communicated this message to major trade centers including New Jersey, New York, and Houston, and has asked the relevant workers to prepare for a strike on October 1.

The ILA, representing approximately 70,000 dockworkers on the U.S. East Coast, continues to strongly criticize Maersk and other container and terminal operators over the new five-year dockworker collective agreement negotiations set to begin in October.

The ILA recently canceled negotiations with USMX due to APM Terminals, a port company under Maersk, using the "Auto Gate" IT system for truck registration at the Port of Mobile in Alabama.

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ILA President Harold J. Daggett stated, "We hope our cancellation of the talks sends a wake-up call to USMX and its members."

"There is no point in trying to negotiate a new agreement with USMX when one of its major companies continues to violate our current agreement with the sole purpose of eliminating ILA jobs through automation."

The ILA has stated that it will not meet with USMX until the issue of automated gates at APM Terminals is resolved.

When negotiations resume, the union is expected to demand wages and other benefits for ILA members to be as substantial as the profits of USMX member companies. The union has carefully reviewed the 2022 financial statements of Maersk, MSC, COSCO, CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd, and Evergreen.

Daggett said, "Companies like Maersk, while achieving billions in revenue, constantly try to reduce ILA jobs by introducing automation," "They will have a rude awakening. This is our time, and the ILA will demand significant wage increases for our dockworkers."

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Maersk expressed disappointment over the "strike threat"

Maersk stated that the shipping group views the cancellation of negotiations purely as a negotiation tactic. APM Terminals said, "We are disappointed that the ILA has chosen to publicize portions of the ongoing negotiations to create additional leverage for their other demands."

The threat of a strike at U.S. East Coast ports comes at a challenging time, as the supply chain faces new pressures. Shipping companies have been navigating around southern Africa for months due to the Red Sea crisis, leading to rising shipping costs and shrinking capacity.

The concern is that any economic slowdown or work stoppage could affect the import of billions of dollars' worth of goods, from food and medicine to furniture and factory equipment.

The CEO of the Port of Los Angeles, which competes with East Coast ports, noted that due to labor negotiations, the Red Sea issue, and constraints in the Panama Canal, some importers have shifted small amounts of cargo from East Coast ports to West Coast ports as a precaution.

Stay tuned for further updates on the current maritime situation from Amasia Group!