ILA Strike Watch 2024: Biden No, Trump Yes?

 In exports, ILA, ILA Strike, ILA Strike Watch, ILA Strike Watch 2024, importing, international business, International Shipping, ocean freight, ocean shipping, President Biden, President Trump, shippers

Universal Cargo’s International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) strike watch continues….

Shippers dread an ILA strike, which would shut down ports all along the East and Gulf Coasts, massively disrupting supply chains. That wouldn’t just be bad for businesses that import or export goods. It would also be an enormous blow to the economy, likely measured in billions of dollars in damage per day. Thus, the country’s leaders, all the way up to America’s president, often must get involved when negotiations turn sour and labor action becomes a factor….

But politician involvement is where the current ILA contract situation has taken unorthodox turns….

ILA Shuns Biden, Meets with Trump

Despite giant unions, like the ILA, traditionally supporting the Democrat Party, the ILA has snubbed the Biden Administration. ILA President Harold Daggett has been vocally critical of President Biden’s intervention in the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) negotiations at the ports on the West Coast. This is after the ILA endorsed Joe Biden in his presidential bid in 2020 and Biden’s claims to be the most union-friendly president in history.

Presidents Biden and Trump and ILA Strike
ILA President shuns Biden Administration mediation and meets with President Trump.

Of course, President Biden’s claims have to be taken with a grain of salt. In the first presidential debate of 2024, President Biden claimed to have a golf handicap of 6 but needed serious help stepping down one little step when the debate was over. He also claimed no soldiers have been killed during his time in office, as if we all forgot about the 13 he got killed with his terribly botched withdrawal from Afghanistan. Not that those were the only U.S. soldiers killed during his presidency. Nor that those were his only two false claims in the debate. But to be fair, President Biden may have just been confused when making claims during the debate. He certainly looked confused most of the time.

He’ll really be confuse in that while the ILA president said he doesn’t want the Biden Administration getting involved in the contract negotiation situation, even if it goes bad, Daggett did have a meeting with President Trump.

In its email newsletter, the logistics company All-Ways described the purpose of the meeting as being “to discuss future plans.” All-Ways gives no other details regarding the meeting other than an implication from the title “Labor Seeks Support” that the union may be looking for that support from President Trump.

Unfortunately, there hasn’t been any good reporting on the substance of the meeting between Daggett and President Trump. I’ve seen only a couple mentions of the meeting outside of All-Ways newsletters. I haven’t seen anything giving any real details beyond the meeting happening. Can we glean anything merely from the knowledge of a meeting taking place?

Troubling Timeline

Staying away from wild conjecture, the only thing that really can be taken from the meeting with President Trump is a troubling timeline:

ILA’s contract expires at the end of September. Daggett has said the ILA will immediately strike in October if a new contract is not in place. The presidential election doesn’t take place until November. If President Trump wins, he won’t be sworn back in until January. You can probably see where this is going….

If Daggett met with President Trump because the former thinks the latter will be president or at least president-elect before contract negotiations are settled, ILA’s president is planning on a strike. Possibly a long one.

I don’t know of a single poll that shows President Biden leading President Trump in the 2024 race. And that was before President Trump’s lead increased after President Biden’s abysmal performance in the aforementioned debate. It would make sense that Daggett met with him because Daggett believes Trump will be president again. Or because he at least thinks there’s a good chance President Trump will win.

That’s as far as I’m willing to go with conjecture over the Daggett-Trump meeting. I’m not even going to make inferences about Daggett’s willingness to meet with President Trump while he’s already stated, “We will not be interested in Biden sending us a mediator if negotiations are not going well.” All I could do is make assumptions. And you know what they say about assumptions.

Negotiations Still Stalled

They say no news is good news. That’s not the case with current ILA contract negotiations.

No news means no meeting at the negotiation table to talk out the issues for a new contract. No news means a higher likelihood that a deal won’t be reached before the current contract expires. With Daggett saying the ILA will strike if the contract expires without a new deal, no news means a higher chance of a strike shutting down East and Gulf Coast ports.

Unfortunately, no news is what we have when it comes to the ILA meeting with the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) at the negotiating table. There’s nothing to indicate we’re closer to seeing that. No news is bad news for shippers. And the U.S. economy.

ILA Strike Watch Posts

If you want to go back and revisit the events leading to where we are now, here are Universal Cargo’s ILA Strike Watch 2024 posts plus ones on the situation outside of official “Strike Watch” posts:

ILA Stance Is Worse Than Just Threatening Strike

ILA Already Threatening Strike

We Have to Talk About the ILA Strike Threat

How to Prepare for Potential ILA Port Disruption

No One Knows What Will Happen with ILA Port Disruption

Early Peak Season, High Freight Rates, & 5 Factors Shaping Ocean Freight Shipping 2024

ILA Strike Watch 2024: Cancelled Talks & Strike Threat Increase

Are There Any Signs the Early Peak Season Is Slowing Down?

ILA Strike Watch 2024 – US Trade Groups Ask Biden to Get ILA to Negotiation Table

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