New York and New Jersey longshoremen walked off the job Friday and caused significant traffic congestion at the East Coast’s largest port complex.
The work stoppage involves upwards of 4,000 workers primarily at the Port Newark–Elizabeth Marine Terminal. Port Authority officials are warning of traffic problems and have suspended truck operations. The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) is the main union representing the disgruntled workers.
“We strongly urge the ILA members to return to work immediately and resolve their differences after they return,” a Port Authority spokesman told the local affiliate of ABC News. “In the meantime, Port Authority Police are actively working to ensure public safety for all of the stakeholders at the port.”
The Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor is a the main regulatory agency overseeing the port complex. The port incorporates both New York and New Jersey and is a major hub for the shipping industry. The work stoppage came as a surprise to officials who were not notified in advance. Workers or their union are legally required to notify employers in advance of any strike or work stoppage. ILA Spokesman Jim McNamara notes the union was also left in the dark but understands why the workers decided to walk off the job.
“They see the commission as a threat to to their livelihood, making life miserable for longshoremen,” McNamara told NJ.com. “They have gone way beyond their role of licensing to break down the gains of the ILA.”
The New York Shipping Association helps to negotiate with the union on behalf of the terminal operators and shipping companies. Association Spokeswoman Beverly Fedorko notes it is not currently negotiating a union contract. The port complex handle over 3.3 million containers per year at $200 billion in good.
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