Developers of a subsidized cargo-handling facility at the Port of Baltimore hope the so-called "Container Freight Station" will provide employment for unionized longshoremen who've lost work in recent years.
The facility will use members of the International Longshoremen's Association to load and unload cargo from standardized shipping containers. Their wages will be subsidized by a 30-cent-per-ton cargo assessment charged at all ILA ports.
The subsidy is to help reduce the higher costs of using unionized labor and make it competitive with non-union stations operating off-pier.
The arrangement is the outgrowth of a national ILA contract signed about two years by the union and the Carriers' Container Council of employers. Some other ports, including Hampton Roads, Va., and New Orleans, have already set up the stations.
Baltimore's station should open sometime next month in shed 11 of the Dundalk Marine Terminal. All Freight Distribution Co. of Baltimore was yesterday awarded by the state Board of Public Works a three-year contract to operate the station.
"It should generate some business," said William J. Detweiler, regional head of the Carriers' Container Council.
Services available at the station include the loading and unloading of containers, consolidation of loads, government inspection and hauling.
"I'm glad to see it finally getting off the ground. I would hope it will bring in man-hours," said Maurice Byan, president of the Steamship Trade Association of Baltimore Inc., a trade group of DTC employers at the port.
"We need to continue these kinds of partnerships in order to rebuild the port's cargo," said Gov. William Donald Schaefer, in a statement released by his office.