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ILA halts negotiations with United States Maritime Alliance amidst automation conflict

The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) has suspended talks with the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) amidst ongoing negotiations of local agreements under the coast-wide Master Contract, set to expire on September 30, 2024.

The ILA canceled Master Contract talks scheduled fo June 12 with USMX after discovering that APM Terminals and Maersk Line are utilizing an Auto Gate system, which autonomously processes trucks without ILA labor. This system, initially identified at the Port of Mobile, Alabama, is reportedly being used in other ports as well.

A spokesperson for the ILA stated, “Here we go again! This is another example of USMX members unilaterally circumventing our coast-wide Master Contract. This is a clear violation of our agreement with USMX, and we will not tolerate it any longer.”

“There’s no point trying to negotiate a new agreement with USMX when one of its major companies continues to violate our current agreement with the sole aim of eliminating ILA jobs through automation,” said International President Harold J. Daggett, who serves as chief negotiator for the union.

The ILA will not meet with USMX until the Auto Gate issue is resolved. Additionally, the union is still waiting on results from an audit for the jobs created out of new technology, a report they have been anticipating for almost two contract periods. The ILA has observed an increasing number of IT personnel on marine terminals, with concerns that APM and Maersk’s IT departments in Charlotte, North Carolina, are encroaching on their jurisdiction.

“We are not taking this lightly,” the ILA cautioned.

The ILA is monitoring and keenly aware of APM Terminals and Maersk Line’s repeated attempts to circumvent the ILA-USMX Master Contract and cut ILA jobs through the introduction of automation and semi-automation equipment.

“Most of the problems the ILA is facing on the East and Gulf Coast all stem from APM Terminals and Maersk Line,” the ILA added. “Maersk Line, the second largest ocean carrier in the world, has a track record of pushing automation. They started semi-automation in the Port of Hampton Roads, and have full automation at Pier 400 in Los Angeles, California. The ILA lost tens of thousands of jobs in the 1970s due to containerization, and APM and Maersk seem to be leading the charge to eliminate good, family-sustaining jobs right here in the U.S.”

(ILA photo)