Big Labor Greed Worsens Supply-Chain Crisis

Amidst a global supply-chain crisis, President Joe Biden’s longshore union allies have virtually shut down South Carolina’s new, billion-dollar Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal. Is the Biden team okay with that? (Credit: U.S. Senate/ Wikimedia Commons)

With his own approval ratings and the political prospects of his fellow Beltway Democrat politicians both sinking like a rock, Big Labor President Joe Biden is desperate to appear to be addressing the grave flaws in America’s supply chain.

As the U.S. and world economies try to rebound from the recent COVID-19 recession, these long-standing problems are now making it extraordinarily time-consuming and expensive for America’s businesses to get merchandise to their international customers and the tools they need to keep production going.

Chronic congestion and soaring freight costs fueled 8.6% wholesale price inflation for the year ending in October, the highest rate over a 12-month period in more than a decade, and are causing shortages of key consumer items like clothes, auto parts and toys.

For months, the Biden Administration has been purporting to do everything it could to fix the supply chain, but as this Newsletter goes to press, fresh reports keep coming out of ports that are unable to handle the influx of trucks making pick-ups and deliveries, even though the drivers have appointment times. 

Biden NLRB General Counsel Could Help Unclog U.S. Ports — if She Wanted to 

“The fact is, President Biden and his appointees aren’t really serious about alleviating the supply-chain crisis or about advancing long-term solutions,” said National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix.

“If they were, Jennifer Abruzzo — Mr. Biden’s handpicked general counsel of the National Labor Relations Board [NLRB] — would already have sought an injunction to stop International Longshoremen’s Association [ILA] union bosses from pursuing their legal war against the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal.”

Located at the Port of Charleston in Right to Work South Carolina, this billion-dollar, state-of-the-art terminal welcomed its first vessel in April. Leatherman is the first and only container terminal to open in the U.S. since 2009, and it is engineered to handle efficiently the biggest ships calling on East Coast ports.

“Leatherman began operating at a time when the U.S. and world economies desperately needed it,” noted Mr. Mix.   

“Were it now operating at full capacity, Leatherman would be furnishing many ILA members with high-paying jobs moving containers around the yards as well as alleviating our nation’s supply chain woes.”

Unfortunately, despite record international cargo traffic, only a small fraction of the 35,000 containers a month that could go through Leatherman are actually doing so. As of November 24, the South Carolina Ports vessel schedule showed that only one ship was expected to call at the terminal over the next 15 days.

Big Labor Power Grab Constitutes ‘Unlawful, Secondary Activity’

Most carriers are refusing to relocate services to Leatherman because they know that, if they do, ILA bosses will be poised to sue them for hundreds of millions of dollars for supposedly violating the union’s contract with them.

Union lawyers claim their contract prohibits carriers from loading and unloading shipments at Leatherman because at this terminal union-free state employees operate ship-to-shore cranes and other heavy-lift equipment, even as other front-line jobs are performed by workers who are subject to ILA control.

They insist ILA bosses have the right to collect massive damages from carriers for docking at Leatherman even though the ILA hierarchy has for years permitted carriers to dock at other terminals in South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia that use the same “hybrid” work model.

In September, NLRB Administrative Law Judge Andrew Gollin rejected ILA lawyers’ claims, and branded the Leatherman power grab as a bid to “acquire work not traditionally performed by unit employees,” which constitutes “unlawful, secondary activity.”

Apparently believing they have the White House in their pocket, ILA chieftains have not been deterred by this stern legal rebuff. They are reportedly counting on the Biden NLRB to force South Carolina officials to cede control of all Leatherman port jobs to Big Labor.

But Mr. Mix is fighting back on behalf of the Committee’s 2.8 million members and other concerned citizens.

On November 16, he met with pro-Right to Work members of South Carolina’s congressional delegation to discuss how they could turn up the heat on the Biden Administration to end the illegal Leatherman boycott.

Mr. Mix explained: “Under Section 10(l) of the federal Labor-Management Relations Act, General Counsel Abruzzo is required to investigate and, if appropriate, seek court injunctions to stop illegal secondary boycotts.

“If she doesn’t take such actions in the Leatherman matter without further delay, political favoritism towards Big Labor will be the only plausible reason why she doesn’t.”

This article was originally published in our monthly newsletter. Go here to access previous newsletter posts.

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