Lawmakers are scrambling to finish their business with less than a week left in the official session. Wednesday Charleston County Representative Wendell Gilliard argued passionately on the House floor to add an amendment to a measure concerning the composition of the States Ports Authority Board. The measure that originated in the Senate states that each board member should hold a four year college degree or have at least five years experience in maritime shipping or related fields including international commerce.
Gilliard says the board should add a tenth member and that member should be a member of the Longshoremen’s Union rank-and-file, a person who actually works at the port.”The port is important in Charleston. It impacts everybody in this room. Why cant’s the people have a voice at the table? Right now, they don’t. We just lost a major company, Maersk, and the first thing that you read was that the union and the board members did not have dialogue.”
Gilliard says at least three unions are represented at the Charleston port, but the Longshoremen’s Union has the largest representation of over 800 members.
Williamsburg County Representative Ken Kennedy threw his support in favor of Gilliard’s measure, but was quick to warn his colleague from Charleston that he was fighting a losing battle.
Kennedy: “Do you know where you are?”
Kennedy: “You’re in South Carolina.”
Gilliard: “Yes, I knew that (this question) was coming.”
Kennedy: “You’re in the South Carolina General Assembly, anti-union! and you’re in the House. You are aware of that?”
Gilliard: “Yes. but you see…”(Kennedy interrupts)
Kennedy: “What you’re trying to do makes good sense, and I think you are right on time. I believe the rank-and-file should have representation on this board. ”
Kennedy’s observation proved to be true as the House voted 73-33 to table Gilliard’s amendment.