THE LWC WANTS A NEW CONTRACT
THE INTERNATIONAL OFFICERS OF THE ILA WANT A CONTRACT EXTENSION
ARE YOU SURPRISED?
We Demand A New Contract. No extension. We want a historic contract that rights the wrongs and eliminates the disparities within the ILA.
The Journal of Commerce back in February reported the ILA was open to another 6 year contract extension:
Dockworkers and management on the East and Gulf coasts have engaged in informal communication in recent months about a possible extension of their current labor contract, including one scenario that would lead to a six-year extension, sources told JOC.com.
And here from July 26th:
The union representing East and Gulf coast longshore workers is open to starting negotiations “soon” on a possible extension of its contract with the waterfront employers, according to the head of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA)
This is a stunning position to even entertain in the current context of unprecedented profits, inflation and the windfall tax break Trump dutifully delivered to corporations in 2016. The February article goes on to say what a docile union the ILA is:
In the eyes of many shippers, there is a night and day difference between longshore labor on the East and West coasts. The East Coast experienced a series of disruptive strikes from the 1950s through the late 1970s, a tumultuous period on the docks when containerization, which requires much less longshore labor, replaced traditional breakbulk, resulting in the loss of thousands of dockworker jobs. But after the creation of the Carriers’ Cooperation Council (CCC) following a strike in 1977, labor relations on the East and Gulf coasts entered a prolonged peaceful period that continues today. That labor peace, combined with other factors such Southeast population growth and the 2016 expansion of the Panama Canal, set the stage for significant growth and market share gains by ports such as Savannah, Houston, and New York-New Jersey as shippers re-designed supply chains to shift or diversify routings from the West Coast.
Clearly the shippers see the ILA as the more domesticated union of the two, the one that allows suppressed wages, non-union work and a piss poor retirement. In fact some ports don't even have a pension and every port is on its own with wide disparities between ports. The disparities are not only contained to retirement they apply to real wages too. And you guessed it; the worst conditions are from the South and cleave along racial lines. And neither the pension or wages approach what the ILWU has negotiated. It's obvious the ILA doesn't want to trouble the USMX with a national defined benefit pension. The USMX controls the purse strings and might reduce the tonnage or attempt to eliminate the Container Royalty Fund if the International forgets who butters their bread. After all the International relies on that 10% for all those big multiple salaries they use to build their patronage machine and keep their friends and family on the dues payroll.
Why is the leadership of the ILA signaling obedience rather than organize the membership for a fight? And furthermore, signaling it IN California at the SAGCD Convention is San Diego, while our sister union, the ILWU, is in the middle of a difficult negotiation. This clearly undermines the ILWU's bargaining position which in turn hurts the membership of the ILA. Why isn't the International helping to organize solidarity actions with the ILWU? Why roll over before the fight even begins?
We will not accept yet another substandard 6 year contract extension.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE LWC DEMANDS FOR CONTRACT 2024?
- EQUAL WORK: EQUAL PAY - Eliminate the wage tiers. Worst case scenario a 2 year wage bridge. Starting wage 80% of top rate. Year one a 10% increase. Year 2 made whole.
- ESTABLISH A NATIONAL PENSION PLAN - at least $240 a credit year with a COLA Clause.
- JUNETEENTH A PAID HOLIDAY
- EMPOWERED RANK AND FILE SAFETY COMMITTEES
- IMPROVE MILA - Eliminate all copays. Reduce hours to fully qualify back to 700.
- A NATIONAL ILA-ILWU RESPONSE TO AUTOMATION
- JOB SECURITY PROGRAM - we need this to address the inevitable impact of new technology.
- COLA WITH 10% RAISE- a COLA from the inception of the last contract in 2012 and a COLA clause for all future contracts if we have not been successful at interim negotiation of this demand. A 15% raise in 2024 over life of contract. Assuming inflation levels off to 5% a year this rate would be about $52 an hr ST.
- REMOVE CAP ON CRF - equally and transparently distribute amongst qualifying LS
- ELIMINATE NON-UNION WORK
- HARMONIZE WORK PRACTICES AND PAY TO THE HIGHEST STANDARD
- A CLEARLY STATED, STRONG 'JUST CAUSE STANDARD' IN THE MASTER CONTRACT
- ELIMINATE NO STRIKE CLAUSE
- SYNCHRONIZE ILA AND ILWU CONTRACT TERMS AND EXPIRATION DATES
- UNIFIED MASTER CONTRACT - NO SEPARATE LOCAL AGREEMENTS
- 3 MONTH DEADLINE TO PRODUCE AND DISTRIBUTE COHERENT NEW CONTRACTS
- DOCKSIDE POWER AND PLUGINS FOR ALL SHIPS - investment in air pollution reducing measures
Sounds good doesn't it?
And it's realistic with one hitch. It won't happen without organized rank and file power. The leadership can't do a thing without it. And they know it.
We all know the ILA is a mushroom farm: we're fed manure and kept in the dark. We can all see the ILA is incredibly disorganized; just the way the bosses and our officers like it. We are dissipating all of our potential power through disorganization, lack of discipline, poor education of the issues that confront us and on financial resources squandered on multiple and excessive salaries. Is it a bug or a feature of the ILA? Is it intentional or incompetence? Is the ILA nothing but a legal racket?
The irony is the International DOES know the power of rank and file organization and our officers continually use the ILA's disorganization as an excuse for why they can't win better conditions.
We in the LWC aim to change that. We all know that without rank and file power and organization we won't be capable of harnessing the incredible power longshore has to win a historic contract in 2024. Therefore in addition to the above contract demands we demand the following of the ILA itself :
The ILA conduct open negotiations that any member can attend and that the ILA require ALL Locals subject to the USMX-ILA Master Contract establish a democratically elected 5 person Contract Action Team by January 1st, 2023. The election from the rank and file is to be by secret paper ballot according to DOL guidance for officer elections. At least one member of each CAT will be sent as an official delegate to both the International Convention and the Wage Scale Committee on a rotating basis.
There is also a way to merge the Contract Action Teams with Wage Scale Delegates. This would require the International issue a temporary requirement for each local to elect a wage scale delegate committee of 7: the Local President, ex officio, and 6 elected delegates. This wouldn't be a burden to the locals since the expenses would be covered by the International. Each CAT would then cast delegate votes according to local size. 
The International claims to have $80,000,000 in assets. It's time to put it to good use. The International needs to fully fund the cost for the activities of the CAT's. We all know how the International likes to hoover up our dues for fat salaries. It's time to do some real organizing by establishing the CAT's. The LWC is more than willing to organize the CAT's for the best contract in the ILA's history. If the International doesn't prove us wrong and organize the CAT's, the LWC will.