New York Shipping Association and International Longshoremen’s Association Continues to Mislead the Public Regarding Hiring Delays
March 25, 2014
The statement released today by the coalition led by New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech and New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Bracken accusing the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor of delaying the Port of New York-New Jersey from filling “nearly 700 empty jobs,” is unequivocally and demonstrably false. The release is undoubtedly the result of the intensive lobbying efforts of the New York Shipping Association, Inc. (NYSA) and International Longshoremen’s Association, AFL-CIO (ILA), who have filed a federal lawsuit against the Commission because it will not allow them to institutionalize discrimination through collective bargaining agreements, and has instead required them to hire in a fair and non-discriminatory manner.
Regrettably, the coalition made no attempt to contact the Commission to discover the true facts prior to issuing their statement. Instead, they apparently relied solely on the misrepresentations of the NYSA and ILA who, over the past several months, have been forced to retract similar false accusations of delay in hiring that they made to the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, members of the legislature, the press and even a federal district court judge.
This is just one more in a series of misleading press releases. Last month, two New Jersey legislators were induced by the NYSA and ILA to issue a statement that “red tape was holding up job creation at the Port of New Jersey,” and that the Commission was delaying the Port from filling “approximately 600 vitally needed jobs.” At that time, there were over 100 individuals referred by the industry, many of whom were military veterans, who had been approved by the Commission to go to work and were simply waiting for the NYSA and the ILA to sponsor them for employment. After meeting with the Commission and discovering the true facts, those legislators immediately issued a public statement urging NYSA President John Nardi to sponsor those individuals so that they may be put to work. Mr. Nardi’s statement today that the NYSA has had to jump through “bureaucratic hoops just to fill one empty position” is simply an attempt to deflect the public pressure that the Commission has been exerting on the NYSA to fill labor shortages.
Last week, we advised the NYSA that any harm that its members may be suffering is due to the NYSA’s consistent failure to do what is best for them. Today, the Commission stands firmly behind that statement.
Indeed, the Commission is dedicated to putting people to work in the Port, in a fair and nondiscriminatory manner, as quickly as possible. The Commission has not been the source of any labor shortages or slowdowns in the Port. To the contrary, we have openly criticized the glacial pace at which the NYSA is moving with regard to getting longshoremen sponsored and working in the Port.
The Commission has also offered a diverse prequalified pool of labor assembled from government employment centers in New York and New Jersey, to alleviate any immediate labor shortages. Those individuals, once described by ILA President Harold Daggett as “garbage,” were summarily rejected. This statement is illustrative of why there remains an incredible lack of diversity in waterfront employment, which has led the New York State Division of Human Rights to file a complaint against the NYSA, ILA and ILA Locals, and the Metropolitan Marine Contractors Association (“MMMCA”). The Commission is clearly not the only agency that is deeply troubled by the ILA’s referral practices and the NYSA and MMMCA’s employer sponsorship system, which have caused a disproportionate number of minorities and women to be excluded from union membership and employment opportunities in the Port.
Rather than “destroy” the NYSA and ILA’s collective bargaining agreement, as contended by Harold Daggett in today’s statement, the Commission applauded the industry’s hiring plan, which calls for 51% of those hired to be returning veterans, as long as that plan was truly implemented in accordance with its terms. However, over the past several months, the NYSA and ILA have demonstrated that they are, once again, incapable of hiring in a fair manner. Instead of recruiting and hiring military veterans, as promised, they have dedicated most of their efforts to employing and training their own referrals, to the severe disadvantage of the veterans. As a result, the Commission has had to forcefully advocate on behalf of those veterans who are simply waiting for the NYSA and ILA to put them to work in the Port.
We invite New Jersey State AFL-CIO President Charles Wowkanech, New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Bracken, or any other member of the coalition to meet with the Commission to discuss the serious falsehoods that they have publically made. Should they refuse to do so, it is incumbent on them to provide the public with any objective, credible facts that would support today’s statement. The Commission assures the public that none exist.