“I’m scared,” said Commissioner Helen Bentley, the former head of the Federal Maritime Commission and a five-term congresswoman. “I understand that the longshoremen have to be protected — and they have been for many years. But the new leadership at the ILA has been making threats unlike any we’ve had on the East and Gulf coast negotiations in 35 years.”
The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service announced Thursday that the International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance will resume negotiations during the week of Sept. 17, just two weeks before the contract is set to expire.
ILA spokesman Jim McNamara said mediators contacted both sides Wednesday to get talks back on track.
“This is encouraging. We’re grateful,” McNamara said. “It’s before Oct. 1, so, yeah, there’s time.”
Bentley agreed it was encouraging but remained cautious.
“I’m glad to have the FMCS because it means the federal government is very serious about this,” she said. “The administration certainly did not want a waterfront strike before the election.”