Port Strike 2012 Update: 09/11/12
The contract between the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) is due to expire on September 30th, 2012.
Latest news is that upon request of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), the parties have agreed to resume negotiations during the week of September 17, 2012. The FMCS will mediate the negotiations in hopes that a strike will be avoided come September 30th.
If a strike does take place, the steamship lines have already announced their plans to impose “Emergency Strike Surcharges” of $800-1300 per container.
Also, if dockworkers strike, there is a chance President Obama will invoke the Taft-Hartley Act forcing labor employees back to work to avoid significant economic damage in an election year. According to the Act, the executive branch of the Federal government can obtain legal strikebreaking injunctions if an impending or current strike jeopardized the national health or safety, a test that has been interpreted broadly by the courts. Then again, President Obama is also counting on the union vote this year.
The ILA represents about 15,000 port employees while the USMX represents shippers and terminal operators at 36 ports stretching from Maine to Texas. Negotiations between the two sides ceased on August 22nd after a failure to reach an agreement. The ILA insists on job guarantees in the face of port animation and maintenance outsourcing. However, the USMX wants to make reforms to work rules that, according to them, make the ports prohibitively expensive. Lack of compromise on these issues caused talks to break off and ILA President, Harold Daggett, proclaimed that a port strike would occur if the contract dispute is not settled.
The Tuna FAD fishing ban in the Western Pacific has been officially extended to four months instead of three, and will run until the end of October. Raw material is firm as a result.