The potential shutdown of some of Florida's major container ports led Gov. Rick Scott and the directors of some of those ports to call on President Obama. They asked the president to invoke the controversial Taft-Hartley Act if the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) can't come together by this Saturday.
The ILA and USMX have been negotiating for months on a new contract, with a key sticking point being so-called container royalty fees on cargo, which supplement dockworkers' wages. Employers want to cap those fees and limit who gets them. The ILA says the royalty fees should not be changed.
"While we are encouraged that these groups continue to meet, we must bring attention to the fact that the livelihoods of thousands of Florida families hang in the balance if they do not reach an agreement by Saturday," Scott told reporters on a conference call Thursday morning. "If a strike or a lockout occurs at that time, Florida's largest ports could be shut down, sending shockwaves through jobs all across our state — including truck driver jobs, manufacturing jobs, warehousing jobs — and many jobs beyond the ports themselves. A shut down of Florida ports is simply not an option for Florida families."
The major Florida ports that would be affected are in Miami, Jacksonville and Port Everglades.
Today, James Harrell — the President of The International Longshoremen's Association Local 1402 based in Tampa — told CL that the strike wouldn't affect many of his workers because the Tampa Port doesn't handle much container cargo.