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ILA Halts Potential Port Shutdown

U.S. longshoremen are holding off on their planned protest against labor issues.

On Monday, the president of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) requested members stall their planned walkout, which could disrupt operations at select East Coast ports, The Wall Street Journal reported.

ILA president Harold Dagget will conduct emergency meetings with Congressional members to address the lack of shipping jobs and keep domestic ports open.

“We hear your anger, we hear your frustration and we intend to address it,” Daggett said in a statement.

ILA Local 1422 President Kenneth Riley told WSJ on Monday that local unions would “follow the direction of our president” and a final decision on a walkout would depend on ILA leaders’ progress with legislative authorities.

On Friday, ILA members called out bi-state entities and state port authorities for contributing to shipping labor issues. ILA members across the nation demanded a shutdown of ports along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and planned a march on Washington to address job loss and the U.S.’s crumbling economy. The South Carolina Port Authority, along with the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, were blamed for cutting back employment and hiring unskilled non-ILA members to operate machinery.

In January, automation caused a labor slowdown in Charleston, which caused heavy terminal traffic for several hours. Meanwhile, a multi-year labor battle involving the Waterfront Commission’s work diversity slowed down employment at the East Coast’s busiest port. A federal appeals court ruled against the ILA and stated that the commission didn’t exceed its authority by requiring employers to certify workers were hired without discrimination.

Retail industry groups, including The National Retail Federation (NRF), have expressed concerns over a potential port shutdown and walkout. Last week, the NRF urged ILA members and the U.S. Maritime Alliance to collaborate on a solution to avoid disruption of U.S. port activity. The ILA and U.S. Maritime Alliance have allegedly conducted meetings in Florida to address the ongoing shipping labor issues.