For the past seven months, a team of FMCS mediators led by Director George H. Cohen and including Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh, Director of Mediation Services Jack Sweeney and Commissioner Pete Donatello mediated negotiations between the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX), representing employers, and the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA), representing dockworkers and other employees, at Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports. The FMCS mediators helped the parties successfully avert what could have been an economically disruptive work stoppage in ultimately achieving a mutually acceptable agreement, which was ratified by ILA members April 9 and by employers on April 17. The work of FMCS mediators and the leadership of Director Cohen in helping to resolve this lengthy dispute has been widely credited.
"The year-long dialogue between the ILA and the United States Maritime Alliance, the New York Shipping Association and the Metropolitan Marine Maintenance Contractor's Association with the assistance of George Cohen, Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service resulted in the successful completion of a collective bargaining agreement that was overwhelmingly approved by the membership," stated Harold Daggett, ILA President. "In the current world of problematic relationships between employers and employees, this settlement is no small task."
In a statement released by the employers, USMX chairman and CEO David F. Adam, also praised Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director Cohen and the FMCS team of mediators for helping keep the negotiations on track. "When the parties couldn’t find solutions, Mr. Cohen came up with suggestions that kept us at the bargaining table, which in the end led to agreement on the Master Contract," Adam said.
The National Retail Federation also issued a statement praising the work of FMCS mediators. “The retail industry would also like to recognize the dedication of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) and the hard work of FMCS Director George Cohen and his team of negotiators, who managed to keep both sides at the table to hammer out this deal."
Below is a sample of statements from stakeholders in the negotiations as well as news coverage of the ratification votes:
After strike fears, longshoreman ratify East Coast contract
Dockworkers ratify new 6-year contract
ILA Members Overwhelming Ratify New Six-Year Master Contract; New York-New Jersey ILA Group Says Yes to Local Agreement