With a six-year master contract between the International Longshoremen’s Association and the United States Maritime Alliance ratified last month, the three locals at the port of Baltimore are set to vote on their local contracts with the Steamship Trade Association Thursday.
After paying nearly $2,200 in fees and dues and being sworn into the International Longshoremen's Association Local 333 in September, Jeff Worley received a letter Monday telling him his membership was never valid and that he would be issued a refund rather than be placed into a union work rotation.
The largest longshoremen union at the port of Baltimore is being investigated by its international governing body over allegations that its officers inappropriately stacked local rolls with new members deemed favorable to them in upcoming union elections.
Longshoremen who went on strike last year at the port of Baltimore have claimed they are not liable for related losses sustained by their employers in part because a coastwide labor contract banning such strikes does not apply to them.
Local 333 owes nearly $4 million in damages owed to seven shippers affected by a strike last fall that violated the union contract. With payment still pending, it is now being sued in federal court by two shippers' organizations, the Steamship Trade Association of Baltimore and the United States Maritime Alliance, seeking to collect the damages on behalf of their members.
Local longshoremen went on strike at the port of Baltimore, their actions quickly rippled out into the international shipping trade with negative effects, and now the confusion and costs caused from Chicago to Cartagena to Freeport have taken center stage in their union's efforts to secure a new local contract.
First the port of Baltimore's ongoing labor dispute heated up with a strike, then it was "cooling off" under arbitration, and now it's just simmering with uncertainty — to the benefit of no one, port observers say.
The union representing 14,500 East Coast and Gulf longshoremen and the representative of 43 port operators and shipping companies approved a six-year deal, a federal mediator announced Wednesday afternoon.
With a little more than two weeks to go before a contract extension between East Coast and Gulf dockworkers and port operators expires, the federal mediator said Thursday that progress is being made toward a long-term settlement.