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ILA Says Union Will Not Service Automated Ships Without Crews

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A port administered by the Port Authority of New York-New Jersey.

The International Longshoremen's Association warns against the use of crewless automated ships at its ports.

Credit: Port Authority of New York-New Jersey

In its ongoing efforts to resist all forms of automation in the maritime world, the powerful U.S. International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) has announced that its members would not service automated vessels operating without crews.

Citing issues of safety and security, ILA, the largest union of maritime workers in North America, has long fought automation and even before that, resisted the move to containerization.

Responding to various recent media reports about advancements in shipping automation and, specifically, efforts by Yara, NYK, and others developing automated container ships, ILA president Harold Daggett said, "Don't sail them into ILA ports from Maine to Texas, Puerto Rico, and Eastern Canada – they won't be unloaded or loaded by ILA members."

The ILA staged fierce opposition to all forms of automation. In 2018, the union negotiated a new six-year master contract covering its tens of thousands of workers. One of the main elements of the contract talks and the final agreement was restrictive clauses to block ports from implementing automation technology or equipment. The ILA said that it pledged to "keep productivity levels above what automated equipment could produce," and apart from lower production levels due to the pandemic, the ILA says it has kept its promise and kept its members working.

From The Maritime Executive
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