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ILA union warns dockworkers in the East and Gulf regions of possible strikes


The International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) President has issued a warning that over 70,000 dockworkers, representing the North American East Coast, Gulf Coast, Great Lakes, Puerto Rico, and inland waterways, could strike next year. This cautionary alert stems from a negotiation deadlock between ILA and employers over the impact of automation technology on jobs.

Earlier this year, the ILA President declared that they would not extend the current six-year agreement with the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX), reached in September 2018. The agreement was significant in safeguarding ILA members from job losses due to automation and maintained a premier national healthcare plan and wage increases. With this agreement expiring in September 2024, the ILA has stated they will not extend the current contract without a new agreement in place.

The ILA has been combatting port automation that may cut jobs. Concerns loom that extensive adoption of automation technology could severely affect dockworkers' livelihoods. Hence, the ILA is committed to not extending the contract post its expiration next September.

The ILA President reiterated the warning that workers might resort to a coast-wide strike in October 2024 if a new agreement is not reached. "We will keep our promise," he said, indicating no contract extension without a new agreement.

The standoff in negotiations reflects the impact and challenges of automation technology on the traditional workforce. Both labor and management must find a balance that protects workers' rights and quality of life while adapting to technological advancements. Otherwise, failure to reach an agreement could trigger a massive labor strike, severely impacting port operations in the East and Gulf Coasts.

The ILA needs to stand firm in negotiations for workers' interests and rights while seeking new solutions to address the potential impact of automation on dockworkers. Employers must recognize the trend towards automation but also consider the workers' rights and quality of life to avoid sacrificing their interests for technological progress.

The outcome of these negotiations will directly affect the operations at ports in the East and Gulf Coasts and the livelihood of the workers. It is hoped that both parties will reach a consensus soon to avoid a potential strike, maintaining stable port operations and the quality of life for the workers.

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