Longshoremen shut down ports in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania on Tuesday to protest Del Monte Fresh Produce Co.’s move away from Camden, New Jersey to a cheaper-labor terminal.  The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) was protesting Del Monte’s decision to break a 20-year agreement with the ILA in Philadelphia and transfer 75 ships and a half-million tons of perishable cargo annually out of Camden to a non-ILA facility in Gloucester City.

International Longshoremen’s Association picketers forced work stoppages at four ocean terminals in Port Elizabeth, Newark and Bayonne, N.J., and Staten Island, N.Y., idling 12 ships and costing each carrier about $50,000 a day, the New York Shipping Association said.  Local agencies believe this is the first large strike of its kind in over 25 years.

The domino effect of stopping work at so many terminals will lead to issues in the trucking industry, among others.  However, the two-day wildcat strike ended late yesterday  after picketers agreed to leave the ports, clearing the way for area longshoremen to return to work.  The situation was resolved when the International Longshoremen’s Association convinced the picketers to leave by promising to press harder for a resolution to their situation.  The ILA said it had not sanctioned the walkout and that it amounted to a wildcat action taken by individual members.

The Ports of the Delaware River Marine Trade Association and Greenwich Terminals L.L.C., operator of Packer Avenue, filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board to get the longshoremen back to work.  The New York Shipping Association went to federal court in Newark, and obtained a temporary injunction, ordering the workers to return.  These groups feel that the Longshore workers refusal to work violates their “no strike” clause of current collective bargaining agreements.