In the US, job talks at ports on the East Coast and the Persian Gulf have been suspended

The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), representing union workers on the East Coast and Gulf Coast, has halted negotiations with the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) due to the implementation of automated technology in ports. The suspension comes in connection with ongoing discussions about a new employment contract. ILA discovered the use of an “automatic gate” system by APM Terminals and its parent company Maersk at the Port of Mobile, Alabama, and suspects it is being used at other ports. This system processes trucks without the involvement of union workers, which ILA says violates its existing framework agreement with USMX.

ILA president Harold J. Daggett emphasized the union’s refusal to negotiate on these terms, citing automation efforts as attempts to eliminate union jobs. On the other hand, a Maersk spokesman assured that APM Terminals complied with the ILA/USMX Master Agreement and expressed disappointment that ILA had made details of the negotiations public. The ILA, the largest longshoremen’s union in North America with 85,000 members, has postponed further discussions until the automation issue is resolved. This decision was made during the negotiations of local agreements under the coast-wide general contract, which expires on September 30.

Previous labor disputes, such as the 2022-2023 West Coast International Longshore and Warehouse Union contract negotiations, have highlighted the significant impact of labor actions on trade, impacting billions in trade and increasing cargo backlog recovery times. The current conflict between the ILA and USMX adds another layer of complexity to the global shipping landscape.


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