Flying pickets have hit the Port of New York and New Jersey as Philadelphia longshore workers spread the dispute north. The following two stories cover the struggle of the workers who are defying a court injunction to respect the pickets.
28th September 2010 – All cargo terminals were closed at the Port of New York and New Jersey on Tuesday, due to a strike by members of the International Longshoremen’s Association union, a spokesman said.
“It’s a picket line put up by the ILA, and port workers are not crossing the line,” said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority New York and New Jersey.
“We have every single type of commodity you can imagine. Furniture, beverages, clothing, automobiles, to name a few,” Coleman said.
The port is the biggest coffee port in the United States and handles large amounts of metal from commodity exchanges in London and New York.
“The job action is related to a labor issue at the Port of Philadelphia. It has nothing to do with any labor issues at our port. It’s more of a solidarity strike in connection with what’s going on at the Port of Philadelphia,” Coleman said.
About 200 members of the ILA in Philadelphia are set to lose their jobs by October 1, and they established the picket line in New York/New Jersey in solidarity, said Jim McNamara, spokesman for the ILA.
“I think they are also going to other areas of the country, Florida and Texas,” McNamara said, adding that he could not confirm whether the strike was also taking place in Philadelphia.
A federal judge ordered dock workers to go back to their jobs Tuesday following a wildcat strike that closed all area shipping ports.
Officials sought the injunction in Newark federal court after work ground to a halt when workers refused to cross picket lines set up to protest a labor dispute elsewhere.
“The actions by the \[International Longshoreman’s Association\], in refusing to cross a non-bona-fide picket line, are a violation of the no-strike clause in our current collective bargaining agreement,” said New York Shipping Association President James Curto.
Union spokesman James McNamara says the work stoppage is not officially sanctioned and amounted to a “wildcat” action.
He said union lawyers would meet late Tuesday to discuss what steps they would take in response to the judge’s order.
Dock workers at Port of New York and New Jersey facilities refused to go to work Tuesday morning in solidarity with fellow union members from Camden, N.J., who set up picket lines outside.
“We just came on our own,” said Camden dock worker Ed Reiman. “They are just honoring our picket line.”
The work stoppage affected container facilities in Newark, Elizabeth, Bayonne, Staten Island and Brooklyn. The cruise passenger terminal in Manhattan was not affected.
The dispute stems from efforts by fruit-packing giant Del Monte to move its operation from the Camden port to one in Gloucester, N.J., whose workers are represented by a different union.
The action left 12 ships sitting idle, at the cost of $50,000 each a day for the owners of their contents, port officials said.
Before the judge’s ruling, the Camden union members vowed to keep up their picket until the dispute was settled.
“We are going to stand here and fight until it’s over,” said Kevin Ohara. “We don’t have jobs to go to.”
Del Monte does not use Port of New York and New Jersey facilities, the shipping association said.