A temporary deal has been reached between the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMA) that will delay for 30 days a strike that was scheduled to start Sunday. The strike would have shut down East Coast ports from Boston to Miami, with 14,000 workers taking part. A strike will start at midnight Jan. 28 if a deal isn’t reached by then.
Pat Garofalo at Think Progress takes a closer look at the issues at stake:
Management wants to cut workers’ pay. The largest sticking point in the negotiations between the port workers and a coalition of companies known as the United States Maritime Alliance (USMA) is a payment to workers for each container they unload. Instituted in the 1960s, the payments are meant as compensation for the mechanization of America’s ports, which allows one worker today to do what used to take three workers. As the New York Times explained, “The companies want to freeze those payments for current longshoremen and eliminate them for future hires.” The companies also want to cut future raises for workers to below the rate of inflation.