Saturday, September 15, 2012

Suggested Changes on the Waterfront

The negotiations with the ILA are to start again next week.   This time with an arbitrator from
FMCS.  From their web-site

Release Date: 9/6/2012

Upon the request of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS), the parties have agreed to resume negotiations under our auspices during the week of September 17, 2012.  Due to the sensitivity of this high profile dispute and consistent with the Agency’s longstanding practice, we will not disclose either the location of the meeting or the content of the substantive negotiations that will take place.

I trust they will address many of the issues raised in the Waterfront Commission report of
March 2012.   It's a lengthy report, but appears to spell out the real problems with the
ILA Union at the ports of NY/NJ.

Of course, this is only one of the ports represented by the ILA, although it is the biggest, and
NJ is where the union is headquartered.

The report has some real gems, such as

Mr. Daggett emphatically testified that shop stewards are entitled to their six-figure
salaries.107 He claimed that shop stewards work twenty-four hours a day and help ensure that
there are “no labor problems” in the Port.108 Mr. Daggett testified that $400,000 “[is] not a lot of
money today,”109 a comment that would appear to be out of touch with reality.

In fact, in my opinion, the report is so damaging I don't know why the government hasn't taken
some action and closed down the ILA.   I guess everyone was waiting for the next round of
contract negotiations.  I don't know.   Of course it's difficult to tackle these problems,
and because the union is contracted by a "collective" and not one company, it's even more

Here are the suggestions put forward in the report.   They are very valid, and I trust whomever
from the FMCS is handling the negotiations will read this report, and attempt to put these
changes in to place.

Based on the foregoing, the Commission recommends the following changes by the
shipping industry:

   “Ship time “or “terminal time” payments that go to a single person, whether or not the
person is actually working, should be eliminated. The implementation of a shift system,
rather than a continuous operation system, for all dockworkers would be a highly
advantageous change for Port efficiency.

    “Prime” positions – inflated salaries for little or no work should be eliminated.

     Desirable positions should be fairly distributed based upon sonority and merit. Training
for those positions should be fair and based upon objective criteria that will reduce –
rather than increase – the lack of diversity in the Port.

    Secret ballot elections should be held for shop stewards positions. These positions should
be for a fixed term of years with a clearly delineated process for recall and removal.

    Shop stewards should be assigned the same responsibilities and be paid the salary as their
co-workers. While time off should be given for the purpose of conducting union business,
any additional compensation for such work should be paid by the union under strict rules.

   All elected shop stewards should be trained as to the provisions in the applicable
collective bargaining agreements and their responsibilities in enforcing them.

 Check-in of checkers and longshoreworkers by the timekeeper should be done in a
manner that capable of being audited, which takes advantage of technology and does not
highly compensate favored individuals for little or no work.

Click here for link to complete report.  It is worthy reading.

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