Activity at New York City’s ports came to a sudden halt Friday morning when longshoremen walked off the job over a labor dispute, and no new trucks are being allowed into the ports.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey issued a statement saying, “There is an apparent labor walk off at all PONYNJ terminals. No truck operations at this time. All efforts to resume activity will be undertaken,” and that, “Due to the current work stoppage in the port, no new trucks will be allowed to queue on port roadways. Do not send trucks the Port at this time.”
Roughly 4,500 longshoremen are employed at the ports, and as many as 1,000 workers were involved in the surprise walk off that even union representatives said they were unaware of until it was happening.
James McNamara, a spokesman for the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), which represents the port workers, told Bloomberg the workers walked off because the Waterfront Commission—a regulatory agency for the ports—was interfering in a collective bargaining agreement between the ILA and the New York Shipping Association, which represents the terminal operators, ocean carriers and cargo loading and unloading contractors.
“They say they’re concerned about their own future jobs because a lot of their fellow members are being harassed by the Waterfront Commission, being subjected to drug tests that aren’t part of the agreement between the ILA and the New York Shipping Association,” McNamara told Bloomberg in a phone interview.
Truck traffic is presently backed up and workers are idle in a parking lot.
The Waterfront Commission is calling this an illegal walk off and the Port Authority issued a statement urging workers to return to their posts.
“As the agency that oversees the largest port complex on the East Coast, we strongly urge the ILA members to return to work immediately and resolve their differences after they return. In the meantime, Port Authority Police are actively working to ensure public safety for all of the stakeholders at the port,” the Port Authority said Friday.