Baltimore longshoremen still at loggerheads with shippers over labor contract and lawsuit

The federal lawsuit brought last summer against Baltimore's Local 333 of the International Longshoremen's Association by the shippers' groups United States Maritime Alliance (USMA) and the Steamship Trade Association of Baltimore (STA), seeking payment of a $3.9 million arbitrator's award over Local 333's illegal strike in the fall of 2013 that paralyzed Port of Baltimore trade for days, is still very much alive, according to filings made in the case yesterday. The documents also reveal that on Feb. 13, Local 333 voted down, 442-172, the latest labor-contract offer, which had been negotiated earlier to settle all remaining issues, including the arbitrator's award.

City Paper dubbed Local 333's moves in the long-running dispute Best Union Fail in its 2014 Best of Baltimore issue, because "rather than bolster workers' standing, the union seems to be undermining it." That syndrome appears to be continuing, because, according to yesterday's court documents, the union rejected a deal that gave them a way to save face, reduce its liability under the arbitrator's award over the illegal strike, and move on with a much-needed contract.

"If a local contract were reached," the status report submitted to the court by the plaintiffs explains, USMA and STA "agreed to confirm" the arbitrator's $3.9 million award, "but in a reduced amount and would forego execution on that judgment if Local 333 did not violate" the contract's no-strike clause again during its term, set to expire at the end of September 2018.

Because the contract was rejected, USMA and STA "will now seek to confirm" the award in the full amount, and "intend to file a motion for summary judgment" to end the lawsuit in their favor. Local 333, for its part, explains in its status report that it "will file a motion to dismiss" the case.

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