In Galvanizing Convention Address Covering Wide Ranging Topics, ILA’s Dennis Daggett Declares ILA Stronger and More Unified Than Ever and Challenges USMX To Get Serious About Negotiations
“If they want a fight, then it’s a war they’re going to get!” declared Dennis A. Daggett, Executive Vice President, International Longshoremen’s Association in a rousing speech delivered to over a thousand ILA delegates and guests at the union’s 56th Quadrennial Convention at the Diplomat Hotel in Hollywood, Florida.
The ILA leader was talking about the failed talks earlier this year with United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) and the practices of Employers throughout the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts who balk at the language of the ILA-USMX Master Contract.
In an hour-long speech that was interrupted repeatedly by raucous and approving cheers, Daggett covered a vast range of subjects from International Dockworkers Unions and the powerful global solidarity that has been built to the heroic efforts of ILA longshore workers who braved the Covid pandemic’s deathly threats and kept commerce moving for three years.
“Sisters and Brothers, we as an organization showed the world just how important we are during a global shutdown,” Daggett said about his fellow ILA dockworkers. “Make no mistake about it, it is you that kept America afloat during a global and national crisis. You kept our ports operational, and you became the lifeline that connected us to the rest of the world, bridging the gap between demand and supply.”
Speaking strongly and confidently, the ILA Executive Vice President’s words electrified the crowd that included a large delegation of international dockworker union leaders.
“We are continuing to build strong bonds of solidarity throughout the world,” Dennis Daggett said of the ILA’s affiliations with the International Dockworkers Council and the International Transport Workers Federation. “We are looking out for and protecting one another on a global scale like never before.”
Daggett skillfully weaved and connected multiple subjects relating to the industry to the delight and approval of the large gathering. It was his critical assessment of USMX and their failure to negotiate seriously with the ILA that generated huge approval from ILA delegates.
“I am sick and tired of the media and some in the government blaming the ILA or the ILWU when negotiations are not going well,” Daggett declared. “We both get accused of not bargaining in good faith or accused of slowdown. Nobody ever reports on how foreign owned companies are taking on the American worker!”
With scores of USMX officials in the audience, ILA Executive Vice President Daggett warned them: “The days of gentlemen agreements are over for me. From now on, we want ironclad language, and what the actual intent of that language is, in writing because after a contract is signed, everybody all of a sudden gets amnesia.”
Daggett declared that the ILA would stand strong in negotiations when he said, “A fair and just society thrives when we reward hard work, and for me, it’s a matter of principle, and now is our time! I hope and pray we have your (USMX) support.”
Concluding with an ILA declaration of independence, Dennis Daggett pledged the cheering audience: “We will not be silenced; we will not be broken. We will take a leap forward, not just for ourselves, but in honor of those warriors of the past, and for generations to come. Let our collective voice echo through history, reminding the world that the power of labor can move mountains and shape the destiny of nations. Let all Maritime Labor march forward, shoulder to shoulder, forging a path towards a brighter and more prosperous future.
“Today we will leave this house of labor more unified than ever, and we will show the world once again that solidarity is the way to victory!”