ILA President Harold Daggett Announces Prospects For ILA-USMX Master Contract Talks; Praises ILA Members Keeping Commerce Moving During COVID As “America’s Front-Line Heroes”
NORTH BERGEN, NJ (November 3, 2022) ILA President Harold J. Daggett used the stage of 2022 Admiral of the Ocean Sea Award, attended by almost a thousand shipping executives, maritime employers, longshore labor, port authorities and military, to announce that the International Longshoremen’s Association and United States Maritime Association (USMX) will step up informal talks leaders of both organizations have been engaged in and begin formal negotiations on a ILA-USMX Master Contract in the near future.
“My ILA leadership team have kept the lines of communications open with Dave Adam and Paul DeMaria and their USMX team,” ILA President Daggett told the huge maritime audience gathering last week at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel in New York City for the 53rd Annual Admiral of the Ocean Sea Award Dinner, where he was presented the prestigious AOTOS Award. “Our success working together over the past decade has established a powerful trust that can help us reach a new agreement which both sides can be happy with. USMX treats the ILA as equal partners in our industry.”
In front of top-level shipping executives and port stakeholders, many who will be part of upcoming ILA-USMX Contract talks, the ILA leader repeated the union’s strong and unwavering opposition to automated ports.
“First of all, you all know how I feel about automation and automated ships,” ILA President Daggett said. “And we all see how great the maritime and shippers in our industry are doing. One company has made 4.6 Billion just in the second quarter of this year alone. “Automation – That’s a code word for unemployment,” the ILA leader continued. “The ILA has pledged to USMX that we will outproduce any automated equipment. As I said earlier, we understand and respect each other.”
The longshore union president opened his remarks at the AOTOS dinner by praising his ILA members and the heroic job they performed over the past three years as the world battled the dangers and restrictions brought on by the COVID pandemic. President Daggett included the ILA’s newest members – longshore workers from the Bahamas – in his praise.
“I must share this Award with the 75 thousand ILA men and women working at waterfronts up and down the Atlantic Coast; throughout the Gulf region; Puerto Rico; Great Lakes, Canada, and now including Freeport in the Bahamas,” President Daggett said as he held up the AOTOS Statuette. “I have always loved my membership and pledge to give my all for them. It’s been a labor of love, and an honor to lead them as their president since 2011.
“My admiration for my ILA members skyrocketed these past three years as they demonstrated that they are truly America’s Front-Line Heroes. With courage and determination, grit and guts, these ILA members kept America’s commerce moving, and ports open throughout this horrific world-wide pandemic.”
The ILA leader likened working through the COVID danger to fighting in a war as an American soldier. “In the early months of this pandemic in March, April, and May of 2020, it was believed that if you got COVID, you were a goner,” Daggett said. “Allow me a moment to ask you to remember 35 active ILA members who we lost to COVID. This Pandemic was a war we all fought, and 35 of my ILA members made the ultimate sacrifice.”
President Daggett expanded his praise to all maritime port workers.
“When the public was encouraged to “Work at Home”, ports remained open, and ILA kept working,“ Daggett noted. “ This allowed containers of cargo to get to their destinations at hospitals; supermarkets; clothing stores and businesses across North America.
Which makes all our waterfront workers – labor, shippers, and Port Authorities – true Heroes.”
The ILA Leader also expanded his opposition to automation to all maritime unions.
“You may have read my position in the Journal of Commerce responding to reports that shipping companies were exploring automated ships,” President Daggett remined the audience. “I have a simple message for you: If you plan to sail ships without crews, don’t bring them to an ILA port. We ain’t working them.”
Still the majority of the ILA leader’s AOTOS remarks were filled with hope for the maritime community.
“I believe we will come out with a great contract for six more years,” ILA President Daggett, the 2022 AOTOS Award recipient said. “We need to work together and keep this maritime industry moving. We haven’t had a strike sine 1977.
“We need to continue that, and we will,” he said.