Tuesday, 21 August 2018

ILA: Contract best ever negotiated

Pact bans equipment “devoid of human interaction,” lays out rules for negotiating use of semiautomated machinery.

   The International Longshoremen’s Association is urging members to approve a new six-year master contract when it is put to a vote next month, saying it provides them with further protection from automation.

    In a video explaining the contract, Dennis Daggett, executive vice president of the ILA, said Harold Daggett, the international president of the union and his father, "convinced management to invest in you rather than automation.”

   The ILA and United States Maritime Alliance (USMX), which represents employers, reached agreement on a tentative contract that runs through 2024 in June to replace the current pact, which expires at the end of September.

    An exact date for a vote on the contract by the ILA rank and file has not yet been set, and the union is still negotiating local issues, although in some ports, including New York/New Jersey, tentative local agreements have been completed.
   Daggett said Article XI of the current contract, which deals with new technology, is being modified so that is says there will be no fully automated terminals and no fully automated equipment implemented during the life of the contract. He said the contract defines fully automated as machinery or equipment “devoid of human interaction.”

   Furthermore, he said semiautomated equipment and technology automation will not be implemented until both management and the union agree to workforce protection and staffing levels.

   To protect the ILA workforce, Daggett said when automation is being proposed, manning for new equipment will be determined along with the number of positions affected by headcount, if any. Workers will be reassigned within their craft, if necessary, and rate of pay will be determined using master contract wages and providing workers with similar hours in remaining or new positions.
   He said new work created by technology will be identified and training will be provided to workers so that they “have the tools to succeed.”

   Implementation of new technology will be worked out on a local basis, Daggett said, in recognition that making decisions about automation was not a “one-size-fits-all” process. But he said the co-chairs of the ILA-USMX new technology and automation committee — one from the union andf one provided by USMX — can assist with those local discussions. Agreements must be reached in 90 days.
    If that is not possible, then there is a 30-day period for the ILA-USMX new technology committee — comprised of the two chairmen and five members each from the union and management — to resolve open issues.

    If agreement still is not reached, the contract lays out further procedures for resolving disputes about automation. First a smaller group — two representatives each from the ILA and USMX subcommittee — would meet for an additional 30 days to hammer out an agreement. 

   Failing that, an industry adviser — George Cohen or J.J. Pierson — would sit down with the four representatives to resolve open issues within 15 days. Cohen is former director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service and helped the ILA and USMX avoid a strike in 2012-13. Pierson also is a nationally recognized arbitrator/mediator.

   By mutual agreement, the union and management could extend the negotiations, but Daggett said, “The progression has been negotiated to ensure a prompt and final resolution of all issues.”

    The ILA and United States Maritime Alliance, which represents employers, reached agreement on a tentative six-year master contract in June to replace the current pact that expires at the end of September. While the union has reached tentative agreements on local issues in some ports, including New York, negotiations in some other ports are ongoing. The national and local issues may be voted on at the same time as the master contract, as was done with the current contract.

   Daggett said the proposed agreement is “not a longshore contract or a clerk and checkers contract or a maintenance contract” but benefits all members of the ILA. He called it the best master contract the union has ever negotiated.

    He said it assumes conservative 2 percent growth in cargo, is worth a total of $18.3 billion and that the economic package negotiated by the union provides for an additional $400 million in wages and automation protection.

   Over the term of the six-year agreement, the master contract provides for a $1 per hour wage increase in years two, four, five and six and a $1 increase in the ILA’s national “money purchase plan” — a type of defined benefit pension — in years one and three.

    The agreement also provides for increases in container royalties — an assessment on containerized cargo that is not stuffed and stripped by ILA members — which Daggett said will bring an additional $104 million directly to ILA members and another $250 million through an arrangement that splits container royalties between the ILA and USMX. 

   Daggett added that an increase in the tonnage assessment will translate into a $400 million payment to the Management-ILA Managed Health Care Trust Fund (MILA), which he called “one of best health care plans in America.” He said ILA members will see no reduction in health benefits.

   The contract also provides for reduced cargo assessments in U.S. ports where the ILA competes with terminals that do not employ ILA members. The union calls this its “Caribbean Basin Initiative.”

    With larger ships being used by carriers, Daggett said carriers need additional flexibility if ships do not arrive on time and that the proposed contract provides for what the union calls “setback/cancellation” policies at facilities within two hours of a vessel’s schedule start time. 

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