Posted 1 year ago on Jan. 5, 2013, 8:57 p.m. EST by GirlFriday
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The threat of a strike by the ILA, which would be the first on the East Coast since 1977, sent shockwaves through big business. A group of more than 100 business owners, along with Florida Gov. Rick Scott, sent a letter in early December to President Obama, calling on him to invoke powers granted to the president in the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act that would allow him to stop the strike.
Last year alone, these 14 East and Gulf coast ports — from Boston to Baltimore; Wilmington, N.C., to Savannah, Ga.; and Miami to Houston — handled 110 million tons of cargo. In 2011, more than $208 billion worth of commodities went through the Port of New York and New Jersey, making it the biggest port on the East Coast and the third largest in the country.
At the core of the ongoing impasse in contract negotiations is the USMX’s demands for big concessions from the ILA on the key issues of what’s known as the container royalty fee and the Master Contract Wage Scale, including a guaranteed eight-hour workday. USMX wants to cap and eventually eliminate the royalty fees. In a release issued on Dec. 27 announcing the latest temporary extension of the collective bargaining agreement, the ILA announced some progress in negotiations around the central issue of the container royalty fee.
Where does the struggle go from here?
A potential coastalwide strike by the ILA would have huge implications for the U.S. labor movement, especially in this period. This struggle deserves continued attention as the new deadline of Feb. 6 approaches.
The Southern Workers Assembly has also recently released a petition calling on President Obama not to invoke Taft-Hartley in the event of a strike by the ILA. You can sign that petition at this address: southernworker.org/ilarighttostrikepetition/