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As Labor Day Approaches, ILA Membership Solidly Behind Its President and Wage Scale Negotiators; Union Criticizes USMX For Destroying Productive Flow of Negotiations With Outrageous Proposals and Take It Or Leave It Attitude

ILA membership continues to strongly support their President Harold J. Daggett as the union hopes to avoid a strike on October 1 but making preparations for one if USMX holds to its last position of gutting wages and benefits.

The union has formally requested that USMX provide them with their best and final offer so that the 200 ILA Wage Scale delegates can convene and take a vote on the proposal and also vote recommend a strike.

"United States Maritime Alliance boasts of having successfully negotiated contracts with the ILA without any disruptions to service since 1977, but they fail to mention that stability came with tremendous sacrifices made by the ILA and a spirit of cooperation between the shippers and carriers on one side and the ILA on the other," said Harold J. Daggett, ILA President.

"Our negotiations this past year, though difficult at times, were moving along with that same spirit of cooperation and both sides expected our session in late August would produce a settlement for ILA members to ratify," said President Daggett. "We were encouraged by the agreements we achieved with USMX in July on the issues of automation and chassis work."

Before the negotiated session schedule on August 22nd between the ILA and USMX even began, management's chairman, Jim Capo delivered the insulting and unexpected blow.

"In a brief moment last week, USMX Chairman Jim Capo and his colleagues destroyed years of cooperation and trust," Daggett said. "USMX demanded that the ILA give up its eight-hour guarantee that many port areas of the ILA have had for years,. USMX also demanded that the ILA radically change the hard-fought contractual rules for the payment of overtime. These were items that should not even have been part of the master contract discussions, but USMX insisted that talks could not continue unless we agreed to negotiate this items.

"In all those years since 1977, we have never been presented with a take it or leave it proposition as we were in late August," continued Daggett. "Never was the ILA subjected to a vicious attack that USMX has now waged in the media providing misleading information about the ILA.

"They have adopted an ugly strategy that will not succeed," added Daggett.

A reporter from the New York Post last week accepted USMX's bait and wrote a terribly biased article about the ILA calling their membership greedy. Hundreds of ILA members from around the country peppered the reporter's email with messages of condemnation over the article. The ILA family gave the accurate account about the hard life of a longshore worker and the sacrifices they make for the industry.

"USMX knows that our jobs are extremely dangerous, they know that our members work marathon hours in extreme heat and frigid cold to produce for the companies," said Harold J. Daggett. "Our members and their families, by the hundreds, told that New York Post reporter as such and we will keep reminding USMX."

The ILA President praised the resolve of ILA members up and down the coast. He said the unionized workers across America and around the world have pledged their solidarity with the ILA.

"We were presented with an unexpected battle but we are not alone in this effort to produce a fair contract for our ILA membership," said President Daggett.

Contact: Jim McNamara of ILA at 212-425-1200 (office) or 917-853-0440 (cell) or jmcnamara@ilaunion.org