Crippling Protest Planned
Members of the International Longshoremen’s Association from Maine to Texas are calling for a shutdown of ports along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and a march on Washington to protest job loss and the resulting negative impacts on America’s economy.
The planned daylong protest in Washington will highlight hiring practices in some of the nation’s ports that purposely reduce the numbers of dockworkers, causing immeasurable damage to the nation’s economy. Dates are expected to be announced next week.
“Today’s Longshore Workers are skilled craftsmen,” said Kenneth Riley, ILA Vice President and President of ILA Local 1422, in Charleston, South Carolina, “who operate expensive and dangerous equipment. The work of these dedicated professionals is responsible for much of America’s economic wealth.”
“We are protesting,” said Riley, “damage to the nation’s economy that is caused by the kind of interference that President Trump promised to stop.”
Specifically, members say interference by the South Carolina Port Authority has reduced the number of dockworkers, injuring not only the port, but also the local and national economy. They contend overregulation and governmental interference are killing jobs and reducing the value of economic activity at the ports. The South Carolina State Port Authority uses non-ILA members to operate cranes, receive and deliver cargo, and perform other terminal work. This kind of government interference is causing, said Riley, “unemployment, unskilled and unsafe dock labor, and injury to the coastal economy.”
Also, blamed for job loss and economic injury is the federally permitted Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor. ILA rank and file members maintain that the Waterfront Commission is responsible for damaging the regional economy of the Port of New York and New Jersey, one of the nation’s largest and economically sensitive areas for the receipt and shipment of goods, by causing hundreds of jobs at the port to remain unfilled.
Riley added, “The Port of New York and New Jersey is regulated not only by the Waterfront Commission but also by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. This overregulation is damaging to one of the nation’s busiest ports, and thus hundreds of local businesses that depend upon the port to survive, by reducing the number of dock workers and therefore the amount of cargo that could be moved.”
The Washington protest by Longshoremen is expected to bring much of America’s port economy to a halt. “We will wake up the decision makers and force them to focus on our ports,” said Riley. “If we don’t stop the destruction caused by overreaching bureaucracies, America will pay an even bigger price.”
“Today’s waterfronts are mechanized, dangerous environments where jobs go to decent working people regardless of ethnicity or race. The crime we’re talking about is the continued, constant rippling away of power of America’s economic engine, our ports and our port workers.” said Riley. “All we want to do is work, build this economy, and keep the nation strong, but over regulating agencies, enabled by the federal government want something else, and that’s just not right for America.”