ILA members during last fall's strike (Patrick Pilkey / October 16, 2013)
Last fall, a brief strike by Local 333 of the International Longshoremen's Association shut down operations at the Seagirt and Dundalk marine terminals in Baltimore, affecting commerce for numerous shippers. When an arbitrator ruled the strike was in violation of the union contract, it ended—and subsequently the arbitrator put Local 333 on the hook for nearly $4 million in damages owed to seven shippers. With payment still pending, Local 333 is now being sued in federal court by two shippers' organizations.
The Steamship Trade Association of Baltimore and the United States Maritime Alliance—the plaintiffs in the case, which was filed yesterday in Maryland U.S. District Court—allege that "the entire outstanding amount of $3,858,165.72 remains due and owing," and ask that the court confirm the abritrator's award and decree that Local 333 is liable for it.
The shippers to which Local 333 are indebted, according to the complaint, are: Mediterranean Shipping Company ($1,104,116), Evergreen Line ($221,440), Atlantic Container Lines ($252,972.87), Hamburg Süd ($406,323), Compañía Sud Americana de Vapores ($404,025), Compañía Chilena de Navegación Interoceánica ($360,341.85), and Ports America Chesapeake LLC ($1,108,947).
Local 333 does not appear to have sufficient assets to pay the damages on its own, according to its latest tax returns, filed last November and covering 2012. The returns indicate the local has net assets of just under $2 million after collecting revenues of just over $1.2 million that year.