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Longshoremen Union Leaves the AFL-CIO

After a jurisdictional dispute the union has severed ties

Brian Young's picture
Nov 13, 2020

For 61 years the International Longshoreman’s Association (ILA) has been a member of the AFL-CIO. That partnership ended this week with the ILA voting to disaffiliate with the labor federation.

The move came after the AFL-CIO decided to recognize a long-time ILA-affiliate, the International Organization of Masters, Mates, and Pilots, as a separate union under their own charter. According to a statement from the ILA, the AFL-CIO had promised ILA leaders that they would hold meetings with the ILA before acting.  The move to disaffiliate from the AFL-CIO was unanimously supported by the ILA’s Executive Council.

The ILA currently represents over 65,000 longshoremen on the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, Great Lakes, major US Rivers, as well as workers in Puerto Rico and Eastern Canada. Below is their statement on disaffiliation.

The International Longshoremen’s Association this week disaffiliated with the American Federation of Labor – Congress of Industrial Organizations, ending a 61-year association with the AFL-CIO. The ILA’s Executive Council unanimously voted to disaffiliate with the AFL-CIO, at a meeting two weeks ago in Charleston, South Carolina, citing the “less than even-handed treatment in decisions” on jurisdictional disputes the ILA had with other affiliated union. The longshore union also was angered by the AFL-CIO’s betrayal of allowing a long-time ILA-affiliate – the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots – to rejoin the AFL-CIO under its own charter after promising ILA leaders that they would first hold meetings with all parties before taking any actions.

In a letter to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and copied to all members of the AFL-CIO Executive Council, ILA President Harold Daggett noted that the ILA’s long association with the American Labor Federation and the “disparate treatment of the ILA in favor of other AFL-CIO Affiliates.

“As you know, the ILA became an affiliate of the American Federation of Labor during the last decade of the 19th century and has been an affiliate of the AFL-CIO since 1959,” wrote ILA President Daggett. “The ILA has been dissatisfied with the AFL-CIO’s less than even-handed treatment in decisions under Article XX of the AFL-CIO Constitution. including, in at least one instance, ignoring a court ruling on the ILA’s jurisdiction.”

The AFL-CIO’s ruling against the ILA, reversing a court’s decision upholding the ILA’s rights to certain work, created a dispute between the ILA and its affiliate, the IOMM&P. The IOMM&P left the ILA and sought their own charter with AFL-CIO. The ILA was assured by the AFL-CIO that it would meet with leaders of the ILA and IOMM&P to resolve their dispute.

“In addition, with respect to the request of the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots (IOMM&P) to reinstate its AFL-CIO charter, the AFL-CIO assured the ILA that before the AFL-CIO decided the matter, the AFL-CIO would meet with the ILA and the IOMM&P,” said ILA President Daggett. “The AFL-CIO never held the meeting as promised. Not only did the AFL-CIO fail to keep its word about holding a meeting of the parties before issuing a decision, but the AFL-CIO informed the parties if its decision 10 minutes before the close of business on a Friday evening.”

The ILA made this decision to disaffiliate following numerous attempts to discuss its dissatisfaction with the AFL-CIO, but charges that the Labor Federation has been unwilling to meaningfully address several crucial matters. ILA President Daggett had served on the AFL-CIO’s Executive Council and many ILA officers serve on AFL-CIO State and Central Labor Council Executive Boards. The ILA will end its association with all AFL-CIO affiliated organizations, including the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO.

“The ILA is committed to aggressively protecting its waterfront jurisdiction and will now be free to expand its organizing operations to capture any and all jobs connected with cargo handling, including crane operations, warehousing, port trucking, port rail and other crafts,” said President Harold Daggett. “We’ll put our negotiated contracts that contain the best blue-collar wages, health-care and pension benefits and other protections against any unions’ and we like our chances to successfully expand our already powerful and growing membership.”

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