May 6, 2014
By Neal Tepel
North Bergen, NJ – The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a bi-state agency that is suppose to facilitate and attract cargo to this Port region, has come under attack from the International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL-CIO for a press release issued last week that the union says is another attempt by a government agency to interfere with the Collective Bargaining Agreement between New York Shipping Association and the ILA.
ILA President Harold Daggett sent an April 28th letter to Patrick J. Foye, Executive Director of the New York-New Jersey Port Authority, criticizing the Port Authority for aligning itself with the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor by repeating “obviously false statements to the public at large,” regarding the NYSA-ILA new Recruitment and Hiring Plan, including the hiring of U.S. Veterans. “Quite frankly, it is obvious that your office is merely serving as a lap-dog and using (a) press release to repeat misstatements that were force-fed to your office by the Waterfront Commission,” charged ILA President Daggett. “If your agency was seriously concerned about our industry, we would have expected you to have taken the time to contact us before repeating these obviously false statements to the public at large.”
The ILA told the Port Authority that this industry works best when there are two parties, labor and management, at the table and not be subjected to interference from outside government bodies, whether it is the Port Authority or Waterfront Commission. “This industry, like every other industry in America, does not need government involvement to dictate the terms of their collective bargaining agreement,” President Daggett wrote in his letter to Mr. Foye. “Indeed, the pubic policy of the United States, article 15 of the Waterfront Commission’s enabling Compact and federal labor law, prohibit government involvement in private collective bargaining.”
The Port Authority’s press release last week admonished NYSA and ILA for the speed in which they were adding U.S. Veterans to the work force. The ILA noted to the Port Authority that the Waterfront Commission’s “arrogant belief that it has the power to tell the NYSA and the ILA what their collective bargaining agreement shall provide is equally contemptuous of the express prohibition of Article XV and national labor law. The Commission’s interference is not only illegal, it is “slowing down the hiring process and has resulted in the industry filing of a federal lawsuit against the Waterfront Commission. NYSA and ILA were prepared to start the hiring process of new workers, including Veterans, on September 9, 2013 when they filed a joint request to add 532 longshoremen and 150 checkers to the Deep-Sea Register.
“It wasn’t until February 3, 2014, almost five months later, that the Commission registered the first men,” the ILA noted in its letter to Mr. Foye, adding that many of the Veteran candidates waited until they were pre-qualified before they made application and paid for a Transportation Worker Identification Card (TWIC). “If you had made any effort to contact the union or management, we would have been happy to tell you delays in certifying pre-qualified are mainly due to the extended time it is currently taking for processing federal Transportation Worker Identification Cards."
The ILA further charged that the Port Authority was using its attack on the ILA and NYSA to divert attention from the well deserved criticism of the Agency regarding “Bridgegate”.
"Recent newspaper articles also have criticized your agency’s hiring as lacking diversity and rife with cronyism,” President Daggett wrote to Mr. Foye saying the Port Authority should display a little more modesty before suggesting that the Authority should lead the way in diversity. “The Port Authority should look in the mirror before casting aspersions on others.”