DECEMBER 28, 2012—Averting a strike that would have halted container traffic at U.S. ports on the East and Gulf Coasts, an agreement in principle has been reached between the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) and the International Longshoremen’s Association on the container royalty issue that had previously been in sticking point in the negotiations between the two sides.
In a statement, federal mediator George Cohen, Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, said, "The container royalty payment issue has been agreed upon in principle by the parties, subject to achieving an overall collective bargaining agreement. The parties have further agreed to an additional extension of 30 days (i.e., until midnight, January 28, 2013) during which time the parties shall negotiate all remaining outstanding Master Agreement issues, including those relating to New York and New Jersey. The negotiation schedule shall be set by the FMCS after consultation with the parties."
Container royalties were first established more than 50 years ago as a means of compensating ILA workers for the loss of jobs due to containerization at the Port of New York and New Jersey. First distributed in 1968, container royalties now represent a welcome form of compensation for port workers.
According to the USMX, ILA workers at East and Gulf Coast ports received a total of $211 million in container royalties in 2011. That works out to an average of about $15,500 per ILA worker.