Longshoremen to vote Tuesday on new contract

Members of a local longshoremen's union are scheduled to vote Tuesday on whether to accept a contract proposed by employers at the port of Baltimore.

The contract covers automobiles, forest products and other break bulk cargo. The union has already agreed to a separate master contract covering container cargo along the East Coast.

The International Longshoremen's Association Local 333 will hold secret ballot voting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at its union hall in Locust Point, officials said.

The contract has been the source of heated negotiations for months between the union and the Steamship Trade Association of Baltimore, which represents port employers.

In October, Local 333 went on strike over the contract for three days. Other local ILA unions honored the picket lines, and the port's public terminals ground to a halt.

A federal arbitrator later ruled Local 333 to pay $3.8 million in damages for the work stoppage, namely because it affected container cargo covered under the master contract, which has a provision barring strikes.

Union officials have called on their membership to vote against proposed contract. Among other issues, union leaders have said the contract does not give the union enough control over job placements.

The Steamship Trade Association has urged union members to accept the contract, which it has called employers' "best and final" offer.

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