Port Crane Operators’ Jobs in Jeopardy

To top ILA bosses’ fury, union-free state employees do a share of the work at ports in three Right to Work states. But thanks to Biden NLRB appointees, those workers’ jobs may soon be scuttled!
To top ILA bosses’ fury, union-free state employees do a share of the work at ports in three Right to Work states. But thanks to Biden NLRB appointees, those workers’ jobs may soon be scuttled! (Credit: A. F. Branco)

Shady Union Dons, Biden Bureaucrats Target South Carolina Workers

For years now, top bosses of the crime-ridden International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) have held a tight grip over who is hired at seaports along the East and Gulf Coasts of the U.S.

The extensive monopoly privileges longshore union bosses enjoy under federal labor policy make it extremely difficult for law enforcement to root out corruption and crime in the ILA.

One of the small number of powerful tools that proponents of honest unionism have long had at their disposal for fighting back is the ban on secondary boycotts approved by Congress as part of the 1947 Taft-Hartley law.

Unfortunately, thanks to a so-far successful scheme by current ILA czar Harold Daggett and his son, ILA second-in-command Dennis Daggett — both acting in partnership with President Joe Biden’s appointees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) — that statutory ban may soon be judicially gutted.

Secondary Boycott’s Clear Motive: Bully Port Into Selling Out Crane Operators

Under Taft-Hartley’s secondary boycott ban, it is unlawful for union bosses who have a primary dispute with one employer to pressure a neutral employer to stop doing business with the first employer. This makes it substantially less easy for shady union bosses to exploit their monopoly-bargaining power over many businesses to get control over the jobs of union-free workers who wish to remain that way.

Unfortunately, in 1980 a 5-4 majority of U.S. Supreme Court justices, acting at ILA lawyers’ behest, “reinterpreted” Congress’s ban on secondary boycotts. The High Court found that Big Labor may bully a non-union employer to give it control over jobs not traditionally performed by union members if its aim is to avoid a reduction in the number of union jobs caused by “technological advances.”

But until now the secondary-boycott ban has at least thwarted purely predatory boycotts initiated by ILA and other power-hungry union bosses.

That all may change in short order. 

Last December, two ex-union lawyers appointed to the NLRB in 2021 by Joe Biden gave a green light to ILA bosses to sue any ocean carriers that dock at the new Henry K. Leatherman Terminal in Charleston, S.C., for hundreds of millions of dollars for supposedly violating the union’s contract with them. (Trump appointee John Ring dissented.)

The ILA hierarchy’s clear motive in suing two carriers that have docked at Leatherman, and threatening to sue others if they do the same, is to bully South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) officials, with whom the union has no contract, to sell out union-free employees who operate heavy-lift equipment.

At all Charleston terminals, as well as at terminals in Wilmington, N.C., and Savannah, Ga., ship-to-shore crane operation and certain other jobs have for roughly 50 years been done by union-free employees, even as other jobs are done by workers who are subject to ILA control.

Committee Working With State Lawmakers to Push For SPCA Challenge to Lawless Ruling

While Leatherman employees are the ILA brass’s immediate target, the Daggetts and their cohorts openly admit their real goal is to eliminate completely the Charleston-Wilmington-Savannah “hybrid model.”

According to Biden NLRB appointees David Prouty and Gwynne Wilcox, this is all perfectly okay, because ILA bigwigs’ goal is “work preservation,” even though Mr. Prouty and Ms. Wilcox admit no current ILA members will lose their jobs if the Leatherman terminal is allowed to operate normally and ultimately expand!

The latest blow to port heavy equipment operators’ independence came July 28, when a divided panel on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals went along with the NLRB majority’s contorted definition of “work preservation,” and gave the nod to an ILA-boss lawsuit against any carrier that docks at Leatherman.

National Right to Work Committee Vice President Matthew Leen commented: “The silver lining of the so far disheartening battle is that an NLRB administrative law judge, an NLRB member, and a federal judge have already written opinions cogently explaining why ILA bosses’ boycott is, in reality, ‘unlawful, secondary activity.’

“For that reason, if the SCPA petitions the Supreme Court to take up the case, there is a reasonably good chance cert will be granted and the Biden NLRB will ultimately be overturned.

“But so far the SCPA has not said if it will petition for review. That’s why the Committee is now working with pro-Right to Work lawmakers to encourage SCPA officials to stand up for their employees’ rights by challenging the Fourth Circuit’s outrageous decision.”

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