Cruise lines unaffected by Baltimore port strike

Striking longshoremen at the port of Baltimore worked at least one cruise ship Thursday as their stoppage closed the port's cargo terminals for a second day.

Royal Caribbean International's Grandeur of the Seas arrived for its regular sailing, disgorging passengers and picking up more for an eight-night cruise to New England and Canada.


Despite the strike by International Longshoremen's Association Local 333, union dockworkers handled luggage and performed other tasks Thursday for the big cruise ship, tied up at the Cruise Maryland terminal in Locust Point.

Longshoremen from Local 333 and Local 953 worked the ship "as normal," said Richard Scher, spokesman for the Maryland Port Administration.


"We still have a work stoppage at the public marine terminals," Scher said, "but a decision was obviously made by ILA labor to work the cruise ship."

Neither Riker McKenzie, president of Local 333, nor Michael Angelos, president of the Steamship Trade Association of Baltimore, which represents port operators in contract negotiations, returned calls seeking comment Thursday.

Scher said the Steamship Trade Association advised the port administration that arbitration with the union is scheduled for Friday morning. The administration is not party to those talks.

Local 333, whose members move cargo on and off ships, went on strike Wednesday after its membership voted 517-25 the night before to reject a proposed contract, union officials said.

The rejected contract covers local workplace issues in Baltimore. A broader master agreement covering compensation and rules for container and vehicle shipments for ports up and down the East Coast was reached earlier this year between national ILA union leaders and the U.S. Maritime Alliance.

The Steamship Trade Association said the master agreement includes a no-strike provision, which Local 333 broke.

But the work stoppage is affecting all cargo shipments through the port — from international shipping containers at Seagirt and Dundalk marine terminals to deliveries of Fiats, Mazdas, Mercedes-Benzes and other vehicles at the Fairfield and Masonville marine terminals.

Baltimore's other three ILA locals stopped working as well rather than cross Local 333's picket lines outside the cargo terminals. Those three have reached local agreements with the Steamship Trade Association.


The two cruise lines that embark from Baltimore had braced for disruptions.

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Cynthia Martinez, a Royal Caribbean spokeswoman, said the company had drafted "contingency plans in the event the longshoremen will not assist us with baggage," but those plans didn't appear necessary Thursday. Operations were normal, she said.

Vance Gulliksen, a spokesman for Carnival, said the company has "been told that the strike is not affecting cruise operations" at the port and does not "anticipate any issues related to the Carnival Pride's turnaround in Baltimore on Sunday."

Cruises have been big business for the port in recent years. If the cruises were delayed, passengers whose travel plans might have been disrupted by the strike would likely have complained, creating a public-relations problem for the port and perhaps jeopardizing future cruises.

The port is already scrambling to find a replacement for Carnival, which announced earlier this year that it would relocate the Pride to a Florida port next year.


An earlier version of this article misspelled Vance Gulliksen's name. The Sun regrets the error.