- THE MAGAZINE
- INFO CENTER
A threatened strike by longshoremen is prompting several Maine businesses to plan for the worst, including longer shipping routes and potential delays in customers' orders.
The stalled contract negotiations between the International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance are certainly proving troublesome for many parties.
The current contract expires in September and talks between the two sides broke down last week. A strike would disrupt container service at the port in Portland, as well as the all-important economic supply chain from larger ports on the east coast.
Late Tuesday (Aug. 28, 2012), the union authorized a strike if there is no agreement when its contract expires at the end of September. A strike would affect ports all along the East Coast, including Portland.
Some businesses are already moving their shipments off the East Coast, since they must plan shipments weeks in advance. Longer shipping routes would add costs for businesses.
Ports America runs the marine terminal and is one of the operators being represented by the U.S. Maritime Alliance in the talks. Jack Humeniuk, who works for the company, is the longshoremen union's representative in Portland. Humeniuk wasn't at the most recent talks in Florida, which broke down, in part, over the increasing use of automation, instead of human labor, at large ports.
So a longshoremen strike or lockout would mean big problems for businesses large and small, across the state.
Negotiations between the longshoremen's union and the alliance hinge on issues of overtime and container royalties, which are paid to dock workers based on cargo weight moved through the ports.
The longshoremen's union in Portland, which represents about 20 workers, would be affected by a strike.
The current agreement between the International Longshoremen's Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance expires at the end of September. No new contract talks between the two sides have been scheduled yet.