Charleston dockworkers plan to picket outside the Naval Weapons Station in North Charleston Monday. The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) is upset that out-of-state workers will be loading ammunition at the military base over the next 10 days– a job typically handled by the union.
The supply ship USNS Lewis and Clark was supposed to be loaded in Jacksonville, but its sensitive cargo exceeded the limits for the harbor there. Ken Riley, who heads the Local 1422 chapter of the longshoremen, said the Jacksonville contractor Portus Stevedoring instead decided to bring its own employees to North Charleston for two weeks.
“Floridians are taking South Carolinians’ jobs,” Riley told South Carolina Friday. “South Carolina workers should be doing this work, be it union or non-union.”
He says the Charleston union is under contract and is supposed to handle any loading or offloading at the station. Riley is also the president of the state AFL-CIO.
Portus could not be reached for comment Friday. However, it has previously told the Journal for Commerce that the ILA’s contracts are with the Army, not the Marines. The Charleston Post & Courier reports, meanwhile, that at least one member of Congress is looking into the matter on the ILA’s behalf. A Marines spokeswoman told the paper she was not allowed to identify the politician.
The ILA’s Web site, ilaunion.org, called for dockworkers to also rally outside the Marine barracks in Washington.