Appeals Court Ruling in Favor of ILA in Leatherman Case Major Victory for Longshore Union and Personal Triumph for Harold Daggett

Appeals Court Ruling In Favor of ILA in Leatherman (Charleston, South Carolina) Case A Major Victory for Longshore Union and A Personal Triumph for ILA President Harold Daggett

NORTH BERGEN, NJ – (July 30, 2023) In was a good week for International Longshoremen’s Association President Harold J. Daggett.

In the past seven days, he served as Convention Chairman for the ILA’s 56th Quadrennial Convention, was praised by President Joe Biden and New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy for his leadership, and was unanimously re-elected ILA President for a fourth four-year term on Thursday. The following day, President Daggett and the ILA learned that the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the decision of the National Labor Relations Board and denied the petition for review filed by the State of South Carolina and the South Carolina State Ports Authority.

That decision by the Fourth Circuit not only paves the way for the ILA to insist that employers represented by United States Maritime Alliance enforce the Master Contract which includes the ILA having jurisdictional rights to all work at new terminals, including Charleston’s Leatherman Terminal. That terminal opened after the ILA and USMX signed a six-year agreement in 2018 which including a pledge by ILA employers to give work at new terminals to the ILA. When USMX did not honor that part of the Master Contract, ILA President Harold Daggett instructed his legal team to sue USMX and any shipper who called on the Leatherman Terminal in violation of the contract.

The Fourth Circuit ruled on Friday, July 28th that the ILA had the legal right to enforce its Master Contract, and that included the right of the ILA to sue its employers when they break the promises they made in the Master Contract.

ILA President Harold Daggett believes this favorable decision from the Fourth Circuit will be viewed in the future as one of the most monumental court actions in the union’s 131-year history.

“This ruling doesn’t just apply to new work in Charleston, South Carolina,” ILA President Harold Daggett noted. “It will apply in Savannah, Georgia, and any port area that is constructing new terminals. All the Crane Operations, longshore and checkers and maintenance workers at new port facilities within the ILA’s jurisdictional territory, can now lay claim to all those new jobs.”

The ILA president said the Fourth Circuit’s decision clearly spelled out that this was a dispute between the ILA and its primary employers: the shipping carriers. In the Leatherman dispute, the Fourth Circuit’s ruling blocked South Carolina and its Ports Authority from interfering with a valid agreement between a union and its employers.

In his keynote address to over 1,400 delegates and guests at last week’s opening Convention session, ILA President Harold Daggett blasted USMX for not honoring the Master Contract it had negotiated in 2018 with the union.

“When the new terminal in Charleston was built – the Leatherman Terminal opened- the (South Carolina State) Port Authority would not allow the ILA to have all the new jobs,” President Daggett recounted. “USMX did not back us up on our contract. Now I have lost faith in USMX. You are not honorable.”

ILA President Daggett added that the National Labor Relation’s Board rejected a USMX attorney, who claimed he did not recall clarifying Master Contract language that gave the ILA rights to all work at new terminals.

“Everybody at the signing of the contract – USMX and ILA – understood that part of the new agreement, and now they don’t want to honor the contract they signed,” President Daggett said at the ILA Convention.

“I knew in my heart that the ILA’s position was firm and that we had a right to sue,” reflected President Daggett who did not waiver in his belief that the jobs in Charleston and elsewhere where new terminals were opening, belonged exclusively to the ILA.

“This Fourth Circuit victory opens the door for hundreds, maybe thousands of new jobs for ILA members,” President Daggett added. “What a victory for the ILA!”