New York City Area Ports to Reopen After Longshoremen Walk Off

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said the region’s facilities will reopen after more than 1,000 longshoremen walked off the job Friday in an labor dispute.

Full operations at Port Authority terminals are being restored and gates will open as scheduled on Feb. 1, the agency said in e-mail alert. Members of International Longshoremen’s Association, which represents port workers, had halted work. An emergency contract board meeting was held at 3 p.m. New York time.

An arbitrator issued an award finding that the work stoppage was a violation of the no strike provision in the contract and ordering the officers of the ILA and its constituent locals in the port to inform their members of the same, the New York Shipping Association said in a statement. The association represents the terminal operators, ocean carriers, and stevedores. The NYSA negotiates labor agreements with the ILA.

During this time discussions took place between the ILA and NYSA with regard to outstanding issues concerning chassis, jurisdiction, hiring and technology, the NYSA said. It was agreed to seek solutions to these issues, the association said.

James McNamara, a spokesman for the ILA, said earlier that workers told him they walked off because of interference by the Waterfront Commission in the collective bargaining agreement between the ILA and NYSA. The Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor is a bi-state agency that investigates and combats crime on the waterfront. It was set up in 1953.

This week has been a difficult one for the New York area ports, which were closed for two days because of a snowstorm, said Jeffrey A. Bader, president of the Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers. Trucking companies were surprised by the dockworkers walk-out, he said.

“To the industry, this week was a devastating week,” he said. “Three days of not a container moving.”

While known for its airports, bridges and Times Square bus terminal, the Port Authority owns the busiest port on on the eastern seaboard and the third-largest in the U.S. More than 3 million containers are unloaded at its six terminals each year, serving 23 million customers. 

The terminals include Port Newark, the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal, Greenville Yards-Port Authority Marine Terminal in Jersey City, Port Jersey-Port Authority Marine Terminal in Bayonne and Jersey City, Brooklyn-Port Authority Marine Terminal in Red Hook, Brooklyn and Howland Hook Marine Terminal in Staten Island.

The port is one of the largest auto ports in the country, with volumes of more than 400,000 new vehicles annually.

A prolonged labor conflict, like the one that slowed West Coast ports last year, could “wreak havoc” with spring deliveries to stores, the Retail Industry Leaders Association said in a statement Friday.

“A long-lasting strike would ultimately impact thousands of jobs along America’s supply chain,” said Kelly Kolb, vice president of government affairs for the group. “Given recent unrest in the markets, a self-inflicted wound like this is also the last thing the economy needs.”

The Port Authority functions as a “landlord” and is responsible for port planning and coordination. Private-sector leaseholders are responsible for terminal operations as well as the development of terminal facilities and infrastructure covered by the lease.