North Bergen, N.J.—April 10, 2013—Final votes are still being counted and verified but it appears that the six-year Master Contract, negotiated by United States Maritime Alliance and the International Longshoremen's Association, AFL-CIO and ratified yesterday by ILA members at ports on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, was approved by a staggering 88 percent of the more than 8,000 ILA members who cast votes in yesterday's Master Contract ratification.
Such overwhelming support represents a huge victory for the union and powerful endorsement of the leadership of the ILA's Chief Negotiator Harold J. Daggett, who directed his first Wage Scale negotiations as President of the 35,000-member union.
Unofficial tallies show that the ILA Master Contract was approved by a margin of 7197 to 972 with 33 voids. It is believed that this ratification vote represents the first time in modern ILA history that every ILA Local voted in favor of it. Results of local contract ratification votes are still not available.
The ILA President set a personal high bar on goals for negotiations when he was elected President of the ILA in July 2011. He declared then that he was going to fight aggressively against ILA members being displaced by automation and new technology. He vowed to recapture ILA jobs lost to a weakening of jurisdictional language, end outsourcing of traditional ILA work and he promised to improve and protect ILA members' wages, health benefits, safety and training. Harold Daggett delivered on all these pledges made nearly 24 months ago and the new six-year Agreement is a testament to his success as ILA leader.
In postings on Facebook and calls and texts to ILA headquarters in North Bergen, N.J., ILA members expressed gratitude and excitement at the successful ratification of the new six-year agreement. ILA feels it is now well positioned for the future to help their employers and port areas improve productivity and profits as the shipping world eagerly awaits increases in cargo volume with the widening of the Panama Canal and expansion of worldwide trade.
Their new contract calls for wages increases, a speedier graduation for new members to achieve the top rate of pay, and full protection at no cost to them, for their national health care plan, called MILA. ILA members felt they won major gains when other American workers are faced with cutbacks and givebacks.
Container royalty, which in part helps fund health and other benefits for ILA members, is protected and guaranteed in the new pact. ILA members now feel their sacrifices and contributions to the success of the industry are recognized by the USMX-ILA agreement on Container Royalty.
Management and ILA will also explore ways to recapture traditional ILA jobs lost to port authorities, non-union and even other trade unions.
ILA President Harold Daggett already announced plans to form an ILA steering committee to aggressively expand its organizing efforts here in the United States and foreign port areas as well. The ILA intends to reinforce its solidarity with two affiliated worldwide labor bodies - the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and the International Dockers Council (IDC). It will use the ITF and IDC to protect and defend its jurisdiction and also protect and defend the rights of dockworkers around the world. The ILA also reaffirms its strongest solidarity and support with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).
The ILA Steering Committee will also examine its affiliations with the AFL-CIO, Maritime Trades Department and Transportation Trades Department to make certain the ILA has appropriate leadership roles and voices within these labor affiliates and that its jurisdiction is respected and protected.
With the success of the new six-year agreement and the formation of the ILA Steering Committee, the ILA is confident it will better serve its membership and continue to improve conditions and job opportunities for them.
This news update is courtesy of the International Longshoremen's Association AFL-CIO.