NYSA, ILA Respond to Waterfront Commission & Hiring of 682 Workers

Union and employers frustrated with Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor and their "continued bureaucratic delays, lack of focus and inaccuracies."

By MarEx 2013-10-25 14:04:00

The following is a statement from the New York Shipping Association and the International Longshoremen's Association:

It’s unfortunate that the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor chose to go to the press this week with inaccurate statements in advance of the scheduled November hearings to alleviate the labor shortages in the Port of New York and New Jersey.

The slow moving pace of the Commission’s response to the need of the industry to implement the provisions of the recently bargained Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is a prime example of what still needs to be addressed in New York and New Jersey in order to be competitive in the global market.

In anticipation of cargo and job growth induced from the Panama Canal expansion, and to ensure competitiveness in the Port of New York and New Jersey, the New York Shipping Association (NYSA) and the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) successfully negotiated a hard-fought landmark six-year Collective Bargaining Agreement earlier this year. This agreement demonstrates a commitment from both the ILA and NYSA to improve efficiency and productivity levels in the port.

“One of the industry’s proudest accomplishments in the new contract is a hiring and recruiting plan to enhance diversity in the workforce. The industry will recruit new employees using a plan that calls for 51% of our new workforce to be comprised of military veterans while the balance will be NYSA referrals (24%) and ILA referrals (25%),” said John Nardi, President of NYSA regarding the potential new workers.

Harold Daggett, President of the ILA said, “Veterans bring a wide variety of skills, as well as a flexibility and adaptability that will enhance the industry’s workforce. NYSA and the ILA have started to implement this new hiring plan to provide jobs to our veterans. The ILA takes issue with the Waterfront Commission’s ill-timed comments to the media earlier this week that misrepresents the discharge records of potential former military hires. Those who served our nation should not have to battle for job opportunities at home.”

Nearly eight weeks ago on September 9th the NYSA/ILA Contract Board directed a request to the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor (WC) to hire 682 new workers. The labor demand in the port became more pressing during the summer months as the on-going effort to improve operating systems, productivity and develop our terminals magnified the port’s need to expand its workforce.

“NYSA and the ILA are frustrated with the slow-moving bureaucratic pace of the Waterfront Commission, which has now established hearings that are not scheduled to end until two and a half months after the initial request. Any delay in implementing the hiring program as defined by the CBA will have a severe impact on cargo flow and a resultant negative economic impact,” explained John Nardi. Further delays particularly impact New Jersey where employers require over 518 of the 682 new jobs.

The ILA has utilized an Ethical Practices Counsel for the past years and requires all officers and members of the union to comply with a Code of Ethics.

“Not only are our ILA workers well-trained and productive, but our officers and members must adhere to high standards of honesty and integrity through our ILA Code of Ethics administered by our Ethical Practices Counsel,” said ILA President Daggett. “The Honorable Milton Mollen, a New York Judge with impeccable credentials, has served as ILA Ethical Practices Counselor for 10 years and continues to bring positive reform and eliminate any possible corruption within our great union,” he added.”

A right-sized, well-trained work force is the final component in preparation for the future of the Port and its impact on the region. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey along with the terminal operators in the Port have invested billions of dollars to expand the capacity of terminals, roadways and rail connections. There has been a tremendous investment to dredge the harbor to 50 feet to accommodate larger ships and an innovative solution to the Bayonne Bridge clearance issue is now in place.

The NYSA and ILA are committed to meet its obligations to hire veterans and ensure the Port is positioned to accommodate the current and future labor-demand challenges.

The Waterfront Commission needs to efficiently undertake its defined responsibilities and avoid matters which do not fall within its statutory authority. This statute specifically precludes the Commission from interfering with matters of collective bargaining. It is imperative that the Waterfront Commission ensure potential new employees are of good character and expeditiously bolster the workforce in accordance with the provision of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.