To that end, he said, USMX is willing to discuss the damages with Local 333, but any resolution would have to include a "fair settlement" with enough teeth to deter another strike.

"We're trying to find some middle ground that creates an environment where it's in their best interest not to do anything like this again," Adam said. "We need to continue to produce. Baltimore is a pretty high-production port, and we don't want to do anything to damage that."

As with the negotiations, officials have been tight-lipped about the nature of the damages. Vaughn, the arbitrator, called the arbitration process "confidential," and declined to comment for this article.

However, documents obtained in the Public Information Act request — including Vaughn's full arbitration opinion — provide a complex accounting of the losses and costs, and depict how the strike rippled globally.

The Antofagasta, for example, was the only ship identified as having left Baltimore during the strike without being worked. It not only carried cargo for CCNI, a Chilean shipping line, but also for CSAV, another Chilean carrier, and the German carrier Hamburg Sud, according to Vaughn's opinion.

The 1,000-foot container ship MSC Michaela, which sat idle in Baltimore during the strike before being worked, had to make up time later by omitting a subsequent port call in Freeport, Bahamas, where it was supposed to unload 146 containers and collect another 626, according to the opinion. It instead unloaded the Freeport-bound containers in the Dominican Republic, where they had to be loaded on another vessel for shipment to Freeport.

The report said the ACL Atlantic Conveyor, a 958-foot container and rolling cargo ship, burned 27.5 tons of additional marine diesel oil to keep its systems operating while waiting to be worked in Baltimore, then an additional 230 tons of heavy fuel oil and 6 tons of additional marine diesel oil to increase its speed on subsequent legs to regain the three days it lost to the strike.

The carriers and Ports America Chesapeake, which operates Baltimore's public marine terminals through a public-private partnership with the port administration, said they also incurred other costs.

In all, Ports America Chesapeake and six carriers asked for a total of $4,108,936 in damages, according to the opinion: about $1.3 million for Ports America Chesapeake; $1.1 million for MSC; $406,000 each for CSAV and Hamburg Sud; $378,000 for CCNI; $253,000 for ACL; and $249,000 for Evergreen.

Vaughn awarded $3,858,165.72, or about 94 percent of the damages claimed, after rejecting some smaller items like claimed labor costs for salaried employees, according to the opinion. He also overruled multiple objections from union attorneys.

Maryland Port Administration's White said he has had discussions with Mark Montgomery, president and CEO of Ports America Chesapeake, about the negotiations, but not specifically about the $1.1 million in damages that Ports America is owed or whether it would be willing to forgive the debt to help secure a new local contract.

Montgomery declined to comment through an aide.

The arbitrator Vaughn retained jurisdiction over the case for 180 days — or through the middle of this summer — but left it to the parties to determine how the award is paid or "agree to some other amount of damages."

Kevin J. Marrinan, an attorney for the ILA, said Vaughn may have thought the damages award would create an incentive for the various parties to work out their differences, but the issue instead "boomeranged" and become a major obstacle.

If the damages award remains unresolved when Vaughn's jurisdiction expires, Marrinan said, the dispute could continue in federal court.

USMX's Adam said the negotiations in Baltimore represent "a mine field" that all parties are trying to get through carefully, and resolving the damages award is just one part of that process.

"The ILA is our labor force in Baltimore. They've historically been a good labor force with a hiccup here and there. We have to move forward with the ILA in Baltimore," Adam said. "The last thing I want to do is create any ill will."

An earlier verison of the story included the incorrect tonnage of additional fuel that the CCNI Antofagasta used to stay on schedule after being delayed by the longshoremen’s strike.

krector@baltsun.com

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