ILA Building National and World-Wide Solidarity As It Prepares For Negotiations

ILA Executive Vice President Addresses over 10,000 Spanish Dockworkers as Jordi Aragunde (left), General Coordinator, International Dockers’ Council and Kenneth Riley, ILA Vice President and East Coast U.S. Zone Coordinator, IDC look on.

NORTH BERGEN, NJ – (March 24, 2017) In mid-February 2017, the leaders of ILA Locals from Maine to Texas gathered in Delray Beach, Florida for three days of “informal contract talks” with the leadership of United States Maritime Alliance (USMX). A great deal of focus was placed on these meetings and not just by union and management participants, but also by retail associations, lawmakers and worldwide shipping interests.

At the same time ILA President Harold J. Daggett was leading the union in these informal talks, the ILA was strengthening it position with the maritime community in the United States and dockworkers around the world.

Days after ILA leaders at ports from Maine to Texas concluded these informal contract talks, ILA Executive Vice President Dennis Daggett, ILA Vice Presidents Ken Riley and Virgil Maldonado and ILA staff member, Marc Christine traveled to the Port of Algeciras, Spain to demonstrate ILA solidarity with Spanish Dockworkers, whose livelihoods were being threatened by an anti-worker Spanish government. The rally in Spain attracted more than 11,000 workers who cheered Daggett for traveling to Spain to express solidarity with the Spanish longshore workers. In turn, Jordi Aragunde, the General Coordinator of the worldwide International Dockers’ Council (IDC) and Spanish Dockworker Union leaders pledged their support to the ILA in its upcoming negotiations.

From Spain, Dennis Daggett and his ILA team traveled to Sweden to support Swedish Dockworkers. The Swedish Dockworkers also told the ILA Executive Vice President that they would stand with the ILA in the future.

At ILA seminar meetings held last week in Tampa, Florida, Dennis Daggett described speaking in front of more than 10,000 Spanish Dockers as “one of the most moving experiences of my life.”

Meanwhile in late February, ILA Secretary-Treasurer Stephen Knott and Atlantic Coast District President Michael Vigneron led a small ILA delegation to the Journal of Commerce’s Trans Pacific Maritime Conference in the Port of Long Beach, California. There, the ILA heard from industry leaders talk about the future of shipping.

While on the West Coast, the ILA participated in meetings of the Maritime Labor Alliance (MLA), a group founded by ILA President Harold Daggett three years ago and led by Donald Marcus, the MLA’s president who is the leader of the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots and an International ILA Vice President. MLA is comprised of six major U.S. maritime unions, including the ILA and International Longshore and Warehouse Union. MLA has pledged its support to all its affiliated unions during their respective negotiations.

Two weeks ago, ILA President Harold J. Daggett traveled to Washington, DC to meet with lawmakers to relay the message from ILA members: they will not tolerate government interference with their Collective Bargaining Agreements and jurisdiction whether it’s the Waterfront Commission harassing New York-New Jersey ILA members and interfering with hiring or the South Carolina State Ports Authority continuing to rob ILA members of jobs at the Port of Charleston.

“Our members are at the boiling point,” President Daggett told key U.S. Senators and House members. ILA members expressed their frustration to ILA and USMX leaders at the February informal contract talks.

The ILA is presently contacting ILA Locals advising them to begin preparations for full Wage Scale meetings, including electing ILA Wage Scale Delegates. The union also plans to aggressively fortify and strengthen their bargaining position by building coalitions with labor organizations in the United States and around the world.

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