Talks between the International Longshoremen's Association and waterfront employers have resumed despite an ongoing disagreement over the composition of the union's bargaining committee.
Separate sessions were held yesterday between the employers, represented by the Steamship Trade Association Inc., and ILA Local 953, which is seeking to bargain separately, and the port's four other locals that are still bargaining as a group. More meetings were planned for today.
Traditionally, the port's ILA locals negotiate their contracts as a group and vote them up or down in a single vote of their port-wide membership. But the most recent votes -- to extend a contract in October, 1989, and then to ratify a new agreement in January -- saw Local 953 out-voted by the other locals.
The local, which represents cargo clerks, issued notice that it intends to negotiate separately this time around to control its own fate. The trade association complained to the National Labor Relations Board, which sided with the union.
An appeal has been filed, and the trade association is willing to continue meeting separately with the local, with the understanding that the point is still disputed, said Maurice Byan, president of the trade association.
Byan said a ruling on the appeal is expected any time. Asked what will happen if it does not come before the Nov. 30 expiration of the contract, Byan said "We will cross that bridge when we come to it."
No formal proposals were presented by either side yesterday, though specific demands were outlined, Byan said. He declined to disclose the particular issues.
"We did discuss issues and there are some difficult issues, but not insurmountable ones," he said.
Among the issues expected to dominate the talks are the status of the Guaranteed Annual Income fund, an income-support program for dockworkers that management wants to scale back or eliminate. Also important will be agreements on jurisdiction for the individual locals and management's desire for more flexible shift schedules to accommodate late-night ship arrivals and longer hours for the marine terminals.
There are about 2,500 ILA members at the Port of Baltimore. A four-year national contract, governing dockworkers from Maine to Texas, has been tentatively agreed upon pending the conclusion of local talks and a ratification vote by the end of the month.