By Matt Tomsic
Published Sept. 10, 2012
The International Longshoremen’s Association and the United States Maritime Alliance will continue contract negotiations in about a week as the groups work against the Sept. 30 expiration of the current contract.
Since 1977, the maritime alliance has represented ocean carriers in its contract negotiations with the longshoremen’s association, the union of dockworkers who help load and unload ships on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
The S.C. State Ports Authority and other ports aren’t involved in the negotiations.
“The ports authority is not a direct employer of the ILA,” said Allison Skipper, a spokeswoman for the ports authority, in an email. “We are hopeful that the parties can work through the negotiations and that no work stoppage occurs.”
The two sides have been negotiating a new contract to replace the current contract. The contract began Oct. 1, 2004, and received a two-year extension in 2009. It covers longshoremen from Texas to Maine and affects a couple thousand workers directly in Charleston, said Billy Adams, executive director of the S.C. Stevedores Association, a member of the maritime alliance. The negotiations will also affect the local logistics industry and other businesses tied to the port.
“You’ve got to realize, too, there’s so many other jobs,” Adams said. “People don’t realize how many jobs in the area are affected by the port.”
Adams and Ken Riley, a representative of the local chapter of longshoremen, have participated in the negotiations and will travel to the next negotiations Sept. 19, according to news releases from the maritime alliance and the national longshoremen association.
Both sides have pointed at each other after negotiations stopped weeks earlier, and sticking points included pay and overtime.