- The International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) called for a shutdown of U.S. East and Gulf Coast ports and a daylong march on Washington, D.C., to protest the loss of longshoring jobs and its effect on the economy, according to a press release published on The Maritime Executive. A date will be announced next week.
- The ILA has yet to publish the press release on its website, drawing doubts over whether the protest was officially sanctioned, according to American Shipper. However, further reporting by the magazine found the protest may be held in the next 30 days, and according to one ILA leader in Charleston, SC, was sanctioned.
- The press release states the ILA seeks to protest overregulation and job loss, calling out the South Carolina Ports Authority and the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor for hiring practices. ILA members process $200 million worth of goods annually at the Port of New York and New Jersey, per the release.
The latest news caps a month of activity from the ILA in advance of the 2018 contract talks between the workers' union and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX), which represents their port employers.
A month ago, the ILA forced a slowdown at the Port of Charleston to protest increased automation and the non-ILA workers being hired to operate the new technology. The two sides met last week for informal talks ahead of the official negotiations, after which the ILA predicted two main issues would dominate the talks: the role of automation in job loss and the fulfillment of local contracts prior to the Master Contract's conclusion.
Yet, though both sides described the talks as fruitful the ILA shows no signs it will stop flexing its muscles ahead of further talks. The union participated in an international demonstration in favor of workers at the Port of Algeciras, in Spain this week, and its recent announcement of an east coast port shutdown could cost the nation millions of dollars due to a supply chain slowdown.
A date has yet to be set, but supply chain managers should watch carefully and attempt to move inbound cargo out, or make other adjustments in expectation of port congestion. Even a one-day protest, if successful, could lead to a various-day congestion at ports — in addition to the surface traffic congestion that could be caused by adding at least two-days' worth of freight traffic on a the already busy I-95 corridor.
At present, no statement has been issued by the Port of New York and New Jersey or the South Carolina Ports Authority on plans to mitigate the disruption.