Last Updated:October 1 @ 10:10 am

Malkin: What the Looming Port Strike Is Really About

By Michelle Malkin

It's not about jobs. It's not about safety. It's not about improving dockworkers' living standards. The looming, long-planned East and Gulf Coast port strikes are about protecting Big Labor's archaic work practices and corrupt waterfront rackets.

Are you ready for a fiscal cliff? The union bosses of an estimated 14,500 workers at 15 ports are preparing to send the economy plunging back into recession over productivity and efficiency rules changes. You read that right. Much more on that in a moment. But first, here's what's at stake.

The International Longshoremen's Association's (ILA) grip extends from Boston to Texas to Florida and all points across the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts. The New York-New Jersey ports -- which handle cargo valued at $208 billion -- could come to a standstill. National Retail Federation executive Jonathan Gold issued a desperate statement: "The last thing the economy needs right now is another strike, which would impact all international trade and commerce at the nation's East and Gulf Coast container ports. This is truly a 'container cliff' in the making."

Retailers have begged Big Labor-lovin' President Obama to intervene. Good luck with that. The cozy White House powwow with union bosses immediately after Election Day tells you all you need to know about which side Obama champions.

The United States Maritime Alliance (USMX), which represents 14 Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports, has been bracing for a union-spearheaded shutdown since the summer, when labor negotiations fell apart. The ILA's current contract expired on Sept. 30. Federal mediators granted a 90-day extension that ends on Dec. 29. ILA President Harold Daggett won a unanimous green light earlier this month to call a strike if industry leaders don't give in completely to the union's demands. According to my sources, despite overwhelming industry concessions on wages and benefits, port watchers view the likelihood of a strike at "probably 70 to 85 percent now."

Don't believe the union sob stories. ILA members are among the highest paid union workers in the country. Starting pay for dockworkers is $20 an hour, with a top straight-time pay rate of $32 an hour. Longevity and overtime bonuses are generous, with ILA members earning an average of more than $124,000 a year in wages and benefits.

The sticking points of the heated ILA-USMX talks are "container royalties" (a fee per ton of containerized cargo that carriers pay to ILA members) and "customs and practice." On the New York-New Jersey waterfront, union racketeers have turned archaic work rules into a corrupt system of patronage tied to organized crime. Reporter Carl Horowitz of the National Legal and Policy Center broke down the container royalty dispute this fall: "In 2011 these royalties amounted to $232 million or about $15,500 per worker at Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports. This arrangement was established in 1960 when New York Longshoremen sought to protect themselves against job losses resulting from the introduction of automated cargo container weighing. It's been a ticket for inefficiency."

In other words, it's a ridiculously outdated surcharge on business to cushion the blow of modernity to workers. Unions, of course, siphon off a large chunk of the royalties -- more than $20 million last year alone, according to the Supply Chain Digest. The trade publication points out that "ILA workers receiving those hefty checks today have no real connection to the perceived threat from container traffic to manually loaded freight and handling work that started the whole program in the 1960s."

USMX hasn't even called for eliminating the outdated fees. It just wants to cap them. Under the industry's contract proposal, ILA's average hourly rate would increase to more than $55, including overtime and container royalty. Workers would still not be required to pay premiums on their health care plans like most private employers now require their workers to do.

But the union won't budge, and it is screaming bloody murder over attempts to rein in other inefficiencies.

The additional "customs and practice" that the ILA seeks to preserve are a recipe for corruption. Don't take industry's word for it. This was the conclusion this year of the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor. Decades of favoritism, nepotism and Mafia-friendly hiring practices have bred inefficient and criminal conditions that benefit "a privileged few." The union protects no-show and no-work jobs, 24-hour paid work for 8-hour-a-day-or-less clerks, and unlimited paid vacation for shop stewards. ILA has demanded that multiple crane operators be paid for the work of a single operator. And the commission's hearings exposed ILA bosses tied to mobsters and family members being paid more than $400,000 a year for up to 27 hours a day.

Union bosses and their Occupy Wall Street henchmen will be ratcheting up their rhetoric about "greed" and "fat cats" as they move to ring in the New Year by bringing the American economy to its knees. Now you know the rest of the story.

---

Michelle Malkin is the author of "Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies" (Regnery 2010).

COPYRIGHT 2012 CREATORS.COM

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35 Comments

  1. inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
    December 21, 2012 @ 8:33 am

    This reminds me of the painters union in Chicago back in the 1960s who tried to outlaw union members from using paint rollers in favor of brushes because their efficiency eliminated jobs. Progress happens and is suppose to eliminate inefficiencies in society to free up workers and their productivity to move on to new and higher productivity in new areas of industry and job innovation. Corrupt union leaders whose incomes become jeopardized want to keep the buggy whips being produced for a society of automotive rocket scientists because they, like our liberal progressive politicians, would rather rule in an archaic hell of inefficiency than serve in a modern capitalist industrial world of efficiency that brings higher pay and shorter work hours to all.

    Had we a real Democrat like Truman in the Whitehouse, and a Supreme Court with Gonads instead of breasts, an attempt to discipline the childish disobedient Dock workers like Truman tried to nationalize the disobedient to reality steel industry in 1952, would put the union thug bosses in their place, which is jail. Send in an armed cadre of unemployed returning National Guard or Seal Team six veterans to replace the greedy union collectives of inefficient children like Reagan did to the striking Air Traffic controllers and the problem will solve itself. Then real people who know how to produce with the will to work and the knowledge of how to create success could set an example for the rest of the country here in America, just like they did overseas.

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    • agnesdayComment by agnesday
      December 21, 2012 @ 10:34 am

      I hate to stop you when you’re on a roll, Illuminatuo, but women also have gonads. They’re called ovaries. But on your major points I have to side with you.

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    • inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
      December 21, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

      Some gonads make people stand up, others make them lay down. Michelle Malkin’s make her stand up. It all begins in the brain which is the most powerful organ of all, the organ which if postured in clarity brings meaningful action to all the others. Better a laborer on his feet than a Nobleman on his knees. Better an independent Dock laborer on his feet than a collective Union Leader kicking US to our knees where bad things begin to happen to our money and our morals. Time for ALL Americans to stand up, because when we lay down in the presence of the Liberal mindset bad things begin to happen not only to us but our country.

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  2. freckasmComment by freckasm
    December 21, 2012 @ 9:10 am

    why is it when workers see their livlyhoods and way of life threatin they are called greedy?And what’s a “union boss?”I’ve been in a union for over 20 years and i have no idea what a “union boss” is. I’ve never been told how to vote,I’ve never been told i had to go on strike. And when we did go on strike I’ve never had a “union boss” tell me to threaten anybody who crossed the picket line and went in to work. In fact, they told us not to do anything to anybody who did.And there is absolutly no way anybody making $32 a hour can possibly make $124,ooo a year.

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    • msgtazComment by msgtaz
      December 21, 2012 @ 9:58 am

      That yearly amount was for wages and benneys, hosp, etc and that makes it that amount and it says it is an average.

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    • bna42Comment by bna42
      December 21, 2012 @ 10:27 am

      Freckasm,

      You may not have been told how to vote, but your required union dues have been used to support political candidates while you had no choice in who they were supporting.

      Maybe you were never TOLD to go on strike, but your union members including yourself have had to vote whether to go on strike. You have also had to vote on whether to accept a new contract or stay on strike. Have you ever crossed a picket line and had your colleagues refer to you as a “scab” or your property mysteriously destroyed?

      If you don’t know what a union boss is, take a look at Jimmy Hoffa or Richard Trumka. If you have been a union member for 20 years, you can’t be that naive or gullible.

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    • unitedwestoodComment by unitedwestood
      December 21, 2012 @ 10:31 am

      Humm.. I’m having trouble believing your story of being in a union for 20 years. There are always union bosses ( Joe Philips, in Kansas was the Union boss). I also happen to know from my ex husband being in the union ( there was no choice, you had to join) They do in fact tell them to drive by peoples homes, and harass them.If they strike, you strike.. there is NO choice.

      Just because cash bring home is only 60,000 a year that doesn’t mean that’s all the company is paying or all the worker is truly getting.. what does retirement pensions cost, insurance, sick day’s, holiday’s ect… Nobody ever adds that cost up to the employer. Unions are obsolete and corrupt. They need to be abolished. I also believe that anyone that does go on strike should not be allowed unemployment benefits, access to food pantries or any other assistance. There is a perfectly good job that union workers just walked away from.. so they should have it figured out how to take care of themselves!

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    • mrparkerComment by mrparker
      December 21, 2012 @ 4:00 pm

      BS. You never received newsletters or magazines from your union? My dad belonged to the IBEW for almost 40 years. When I’d visit, I’d look at those rags. It was like reading a communist newspaper. Yet when you’d talk to him or his friends, they sounded like Republicans.
      The only problem was ,he was a depression kid and always voted democrat. Well, those people are dying off, just like conservative democrats.
      And yes, goons told the members how to vote and to be prepared to strike when needed and hassle anyone who dared cross their picket line. Make members pay their own dues and they’ll realize how useless the union is.

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    • empty pocketsComment by empty pockets
      December 22, 2012 @ 6:44 am

      Wow. Apparently you are in a union that *****. You ought to join one like Michelle is talking about. You’re being robbed of all that extra money. That’s no way to grow your greed genes!

      I’ve known union members who staunchly defend unions. But their “drinking buddy” stories reveal that all that Michelle says does indeed happen. And not just in the ILA.

      Regardless of who started the union movement, at its birth it was, if not pure then at least not totally corrupt. It did have the best interests of the “worker” in mind. Some small pockets of that reamin but they’re shrinking like puddles on a sunny day.

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  3. ssmcdonaldComment by ssmcdonald
    December 21, 2012 @ 9:49 am

    “Retailers have begged Big Labor-lovin’ Obama to intervene.” Anybody that thinks Obama is going to intervene needs to travel to Hawaii and interrupt his vacation with your plea.

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  4. socialismisevilComment by socialismisevil
    December 21, 2012 @ 10:08 am

    1) I love MMalkin

    2) its always unions vs taxpayers

    we always lose

    should unions be allowed?
    yes

    except for any government jobs

    the gov doesnt live or play by the same rules so they should NOT BE afforded any “luxuries”

    they work for us

    as far as private companies go

    they should have that right

    ironically , while I defend their right to form they want to destroy our rights

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  5. agnesdayComment by agnesday
    December 21, 2012 @ 10:37 am

    I was never in a union, but I was in a “professional association” that worked under the same rules. I spent $500.00 per year for liability coverage and to pad the political action fund that helped elect our current President. I later found a professional group that provided equal coverage, but did not participate in political underwriting. Cost a quarter of the original dues. If you are in a similar predicament, check around. You do have a choice.

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  6. freckasmComment by freckasm
    December 21, 2012 @ 10:43 am

    @bna42. Labor gives money to politicians who have the same view on labor related issues. Does the NRA give money to politicians because of how they feel about min. wage, NO. Do anti-abortion groups give money to politicians because of how they feel about colective batgining, NO. they give money to politicians becaus of how they feel about their partcular issue.Nobody has to vote on contracts either. I know some people who have never voted on a contract. I don’t understand why they wouldn’t want to, but they don’t. but even if you do, nobody tells you how to vote. And that’s for the contract or wheather to go on strike or not.as far as crossing a picket line, i’ve never done that. and Jimmy Hoffa and Rchard Trumptka are elected officials.Elected by the membership.So before you start calling somebody gullible or naive, why not know what your talking about first which you obviously don’t.You have probably never been in a union before or never worker at a unionized orginization so stop acting like you know what your talking about.

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    • bna42Comment by bna42
      December 21, 2012 @ 11:45 am

      Freckasm,

      Not that your rant deserves an explanation, but I have been a union member and I have walked a picket line. But it was a different time when unions were not so greedy and strikes were called over serious issues such as unsafe working conditions, dangerous environments,etc.

      Today’s unions are corrupt, greedy, and overbearing. Unions have outlived their usefulness because all the good things they once supported are now protected by federal laws, making unions obsolete.

      Yes, union officials are “elected by the membership”, so that means the membership is responsible for the corrupt, illegal actions that those elected “union bosses” engage in, actually complicit in the violation of laws.

      I expect you to defend your union membership, but before you tell me I don’t know what I’m talking about, let me remind you that I have been on both sides of the fence, both union and non-union. And the non-union companies I worked for were very generous to their employees with bigger raises and better benefits in order to avoid having to deal with a bullying union. The problem with most union members is that they don’t have the courage to stand on their own capabilities and need to use the union as a crutch. Look at the Chrysler workers who were actually caught on their lunch break drinking alcohol and smoking dope, but the union fought with Chrysler until these thugs were actually put back on the job. Incidents like this are why unions are being despised.

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    • stopspendingComment by stopspending
      December 21, 2012 @ 3:53 pm

      Thank you for clarifying how unions are like other groups and organizations that contribute to their causes. However, the union members have no choice, except in right to work states, but to give their money to the union and then the union uses as they please. In other organizations, the donator decides whether they agree with the support that is provided by that org. Big, Big difference. Union members have no choice in who and what the union supports. I chose not to join Nat Asso of Realtors because I thought they only looked out for their interests not the best interest of the country. I had a choice.

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  7. freckasmComment by freckasm
    December 21, 2012 @ 10:50 am

    and yes, I’ve belonged to Machinist 660 since april 1992.We went on strike once in Dec.2000 and the only incident that happened is when one of the “replacment workers” drove up onto the sidewalk and tried to run over a group of strikers. But considering what I’m hearing here, you probably think that was a good thing for him to do.Nobody was threatened or harrassed by any union members during the 7 week strike.

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    • inluminatuoComment by inluminatuo
      December 21, 2012 @ 3:30 pm

      Tell it to the formerly employed Twinkie makers whose jobs and company got eaten by the sweet tooth dependent Ding Dong Brained Union bosses addicted to an appetite of living off the unearned wages of their members..

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  8. librabobComment by librabob
    December 21, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

    Labor Unions had their time and place in our history and were a cause for good back then. Vigilante justice likewise was necessary in taming the wild west in the early 1800′s. Most would agree it’s a good thing it ceased to exist. Today we have laws, courts and judges to protect the people from abuses by others. Labor unions need to go the way of the vigilantes, a page in the history books.

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  9. freckasmComment by freckasm
    December 21, 2012 @ 1:09 pm

    oh yeah right, sure you are. Anybody who has been in a union would know everything you said was ********.Your just another GOP troll that’s probably being paid to go on here and say this ****.But hey, your doing a good job at it. Keep up the good work chump.

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    • bna42Comment by bna42
      December 21, 2012 @ 1:18 pm

      So now you’re calling me a liar? Did I step on your toes? Just like a typical union goon, you attack when someone says something against your precious crutch. You don’t have the guts to hold a job depending on your own skills and competence. You need to hide behind a union and let them protect you from the “evil” employer.

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    • bizzybuzzerComment by bizzybuzzer
      December 21, 2012 @ 1:52 pm

      Can’t you libs post without your ****** and **** and **** ?

      Do you feel that hides profanity which is a feeble mind trying to express itself forcibly.

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    • bna42Comment by bna42
      December 21, 2012 @ 2:42 pm

      bizzy,

      liberals don’t have the intelligence to speak without profanity because that’s the only way they know how to express themselves, and it usually gets worse as they are exposed for the dummies that they are.

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    • copakemanComment by copakeman
      December 21, 2012 @ 4:00 pm

      frakasm, why did you leave out the wonderful word “racist”. all anti-union people are “racist” too, arent they ?

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  10. freckasmComment by freckasm
    December 21, 2012 @ 1:13 pm

    and as soon as the unions are gone the same politicians that are working so hard to get rid of them will be working twice has hard to get rid of the labor laws that the unions have fought hard for decades to get. back to 12+ hrs a day for little pay and nothing eles.

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    • bna42Comment by bna42
      December 21, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

      Freshass, If you are a member of Machinist 660, that is a private union. The unions that the politicians are attacking are PUBLIC EMPLOYEES unions which never should have been given the privilege of unionizing. Public employees work for the taxpayer, yet collective bargaining has allowed these employees to have better wages, better benefits, and more perks that the taxpayers who pay their salaries. The public service workers such as police, firefighters, and teachers should not be allowed to strike or bargain collectively. They accepted those jobs and if they are unhappy they have every right to find other careers, provided they live in a right-to-work state. Politicians are not trying to force you to work 12-hour days or make you work for nothing. As long as Democrats are behind the unions and Obama is in office you have nothing to worry about, so chill out.

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  11. freckasmComment by freckasm
    December 21, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

    yeah and that’s right, i’m calling you a liar. typical GOP goon, and no, it’s not a crutch.another typical GOP goon.

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    • bna42Comment by bna42
      December 21, 2012 @ 2:36 pm

      Freckass,

      It’s an attitude like yours that has helped drive honest people away from labor unions. I think union membership in the private sector is now about 7%.

      I suppose you are totally against right-to-work states and you approve of union bullying of companies like Boeing because they built a plant in South Carolina. Like I said, unions are nothing more than corrupt crutches for people to lean on. If that wasn’t true, why can’t people have the option to work without joining a union? That’s nothing but legal blackmail. The tougher the economy gets, and the longer people are out of work, you will see more attacks on these union states. It’s not the politicians’ fault because jobs are more important than union organizations.

      Since you insist on calling me a “paid troll” and a liar, I am more convinced that you are nothing but a union thug, and after being a member for 20 years, I suspect that you might even be one of the union leaders who are responsible for some of the union activity.

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  12. bizzybuzzerComment by bizzybuzzer
    December 21, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

    Obama’s true love: Campaign
    What runs a campaign: Money
    Where does money come from: Unions, Deadbeats, Liberals.
    Why do they give: Favors, Race, Don’t know any better.
    What is free: Air Force One for campaign trips
    Are favors expected from givers: Are you kidding ?????
    How much is the commitment to givers: Have you heard of overspending?

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  13. DanComment by Dan
    December 21, 2012 @ 2:45 pm

    TALK, TALK, TALK, TALK, TALK! And we still have Obama! America, we have been sufficiently dumbed down. With all of the technology literally at our fingertips you might say it is reasonable to say everybody knows everything…It has got to be willful ignorance, there’s just no other answer. Folks only want to know: “What’s in it for me? And to hell with you!” Everybody’s right and everybody’s wrong and we’re all going to hell in hand basket! Please fasten your seatbelts and keep your arms inside the basket! WHHHEEEEE! I’ll see you on the other side!

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  14. brierebearComment by brierebear
    December 21, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

    “Right-to-work” is a misnomer — if I went to these states and demanded a job … after all, I have a “right to work” … maybe if these corporations were hiring instead of hoarding their profits.

    What’s next, kill the minimum wage so we can “be competitive” with Central American and Asian businesses that pay a dollar or two an hour with no benefits?

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    • bna42Comment by bna42
      December 21, 2012 @ 4:54 pm

      Right-to-work does not guarantee you a job, but it does guarantee you that if you go to work, you are NOT forced to join a union before being hired. It also does not require you to pay union dues to be spent by the union bosses on things you don’t want to support. It also means you must be qualified for the job and you must perform the job in order to keep that job.

      In order to get a job, you must possess the necessary skills and education to perform the job. That’s sometimes not the case in a union state. If you join the union and go to work, when your lack of skills or lack of education reveals you are unqualified, the union will keep you in your job anyway. If you want to drink liquor or smoke pot on your lunch break, the union will keep you on your job. If you work a little too fast, the union will counsel you to slow down and goof off because you are making the rest of them look bad.

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  15. socialismisevilComment by socialismisevil
    December 21, 2012 @ 5:53 pm

    michelle is the greatest

    she wont let obamamama get away with his garbage

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  16. wjnskerrComment by wjnskerr
    December 21, 2012 @ 7:52 pm

    Perhaps this is an opportunity for retailer to utilize american suppliers, putting Americans back to work to supply what the ILA thugs are keeping from entering the country. What an opportunity for American manufacturing! Let’s take advantage of it!

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  17. gsreaganComment by gsreagan
    December 21, 2012 @ 8:14 pm

    It’ time to do something about these union boss thugs. Whatever it takes. Where’s Seal Team 6 when you need them.

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  18. Pingback: Longshoremen's union threatens more thuggery - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum

  19. goreschakraComment by goreschakra
    December 22, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

    Th US needs to have a “trust” busting law for unions if they gain control of too much of any market. Like any business monopoly that has too much control that they can force illegal price controls, unions are showing that they too can monopolize prices.

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  20. Pingback: Teachers paid not to teach, unions protect corrupt dock practices, more... | Western Free Press

  21. Pingback: Dock workers set to strike - Page 2 - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum

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