Longshoremen authorize strike, remain on the job

Dockworkers in Charleston have authorized a strike related to contract negotiations, but they remain on the job. (File photo)
Dockworkers in Charleston have authorized a strike related to contract negotiations, but they remain on the job. (File photo)
By Liz Segrist
lsegrist@scbiznews.com
Published June 26, 2014

The local International Longshoremen’s Association recently voted to authorize a strike at the Port of Charleston docks, although no strike has occurred.

Workers have not walked off their jobs and longshoremen continue moving cargo on and off the ships at the port’s terminals, according to Leonard Riley, an ILA Local 1422 union foreman.

The ILA Local 1422 union has been in negotiations on a new labor contract. The Journal of Commerce reports that local union contracts remain incomplete at Charleston, Baltimore and Mobile, Ala.

The ILA is negotiating for higher pensions and to perform work currently handled by state ports authority employees, the JOC reports.

“The vote (for strike authorization) was an apparent effort to pressure employers in negotiations for local contracts covering pensions, work rules and other port-specific issues,” according to the JOC.

Riley declined to discuss specifics, saying that “issues remain unresolved.”

“We believe we are right on the issues and that we can resolve these issues with both parties working together for the good of the port,” Riley said. “The port is growing, and we do not want a work stoppage. We want the port to continue growing robustly, but we have to have these issues resolved.”

Calls to officials with ILA Local 1422 and the S.C. Stevedores Association were not returned from this morning by press time.

Ports authority spokeswoman Erin Dhand said the port’s terminals are operating as usual and under standard business hours.

“From an operational viewpoint, we are operating as usual,” said Dhand, noting that the port would not comment on contract negotiations.

As for workers potentially walking off their jobs, Riley said it depends on the progress of the talks.

“We are very enthusiastic about the possibility of resolving these issues,” Riley said. “That hasn’t happened yet and it’s been disappointing. ... We are still willing and very anxious to meet on these issues.”

Reach staff writer Liz Segrist at 843-849-3119 or @lizsegrist on Twitter.

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