The US Maritime Alliance (USMX), which represents the employers of thousands of dockworkers in the eastern US, reacted on Wednesday to the main east coast union’s threat of a work stoppage, calling it “disturbing”.
Representing the workers, the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) had on Tuesday announced a planned work stoppage at ports on the east coast and Gulf of Mexico, plus a march on Washington to register concerns about job losses in the industry.
USMX’s response urged the ILA to remain in compliance with the master contract binding both sides.
The ILA threat came just days after the two bodies held informal talks intended to get an early jump on contract negotiations. Their current master contract expires in September 2018. Both parties characterized those talks, details of which were not revealed, as “productive and fruitful”.
Apart from the East Coast and the Gulf, the ILA’s 65,000 membership also includes the Great Lakes, inland waterways, Puerto Rico and eastern Canada, making it the largest union of maritime workers in North America.