(Charleston, SC) – In response to a ruling by a National Labor Relations Board administrative judge in September relating to the labor dispute over the Hugh Leatherman Terminal in Charleston, Kenny Riley of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), Local 1422 released the following statement:
“In the middle of a global supply chain crisis, a $1.2 billion tax-payer funded terminal sits nearly idle at the Charleston Port because Gov. McMaster and Attorney General Wilson are trying to score political points.
In light of this, we find the initial ruling denying largely minority members engaged in the ILA-USMX master contract, the right to work in their defined jurisdiction at The Hugh Leatherman Terminal, deeply saddening. The allegations and disinformation campaign launched by the South Carolina State Ports Authority and Attorney General against the ILA represents the continued assault on unions and the mainly African-American workforce of the ILA.
Despite the GOP’s concerted push to attack unionized labor, we will not back down. A hearing of this case will be held before the full board, where we are confident that we will prevail.
Culminating in this suit is an ugly pattern of relentless efforts by the state’s most ardent union busting Republican lawmakers to oppress trade unionism, no matter the cost or consequence. This misguided political grievance against reputable and proficient organized labor is not only reprehensible, but it excludes hard-working South Carolinians from earning wages high enough to pay the rent, put food on the table, and reach a middle-class standard of living.
Despite these attacks, the ILA’s mission to advance women and people of color from the margins remains. We reaffirm our commitment to fight for the men and women in South Carolina that are members of the International Longshoremen’s Association – America’s frontline heroes who kept grocery stores and hospitals stocked during the pandemic.
It is bad business for one of the world’s largest ports and the state’s economic driver to be operating at only 25% capacity. Consequently, this irresponsible political maneuver to benefit the Port Authority’s anti-labor agenda ignores best practices and permits the misuse of over $1.2 billion in public funds that will impose long-term negative economic effects on South Carolinians. Without a resolution, this issue could further exacerbate the current supply chain and container issues at the port while keeping many African American workers unemployed and underemployed.
South Carolina’s hostile climate toward unions cannot be tolerated and should not be supported, funded, or fueled in any way by the Federal Government, especially under Biden’s administration. We will continue this fight in the court and seek the support of the Biden administration to advocate for a strong and sustainable future for union workers.”