ILA event may affect rush hour Ports Authority aims to minimize tie-ups during work stoppage

ILA asked members to plan a one-hour work stoppage. SPA said it is working with area officials to ensure little disruption.

A planned hour-long work stoppage at seaports worldwide on Thursday, designed to draw attention to dockworkers’ rights, could affect area traffic during the morning rush hour.

But the State Ports Authority says it hopes to minimize any impact from the International Longshoremen’s Association event.

The ILA has asked its members to stop working for one hour beginning at 8 a.m. Thursday to “display the resolve of these workers to defend not only the security of their jobs, but also their working conditions, dignity and collective bargaining power,” according to a statement from the maritime union.

The event also is intended to draw public attention to the difficult and sometimes dangerous work ILA members perform and their impact on the economy.

Jim Newsome, the SPA’s president and CEO, said the agency “is working with the Charleston maritime community, cargo owners and ocean carriers to minimize the potential impacts that the one-hour work stoppage ... will have on the economy.”

Newsome said the SPA has “contacted local law enforcement and expects cooperation and coordination among the trucking companies to guard against related traffic congestion on our roads.”

ILA members are responsible for checking truckers in at the SPA’s container terminals, and an hour-long delay could lead to a repeat of traffic backlogs experienced two weeks ago when the SPA started using a new, automated gate system at its Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant.

The Charleston Gate Co., which contracts with ILA workers at the terminals, “is diligently working with the local clerks and mechanics who perform our truck check-in functions to ensure they return to work as quickly as possible,” Newsome said.

The work stoppage is expected to take place at seaports worldwide.

“Our jobs are crucial to the global economy,” the ILA said in a statement. “Without our work, cargo would not be transported around the world (and) essential products like your food, your cars, your furniture, your fuel, etc. would not be available.”

Newsome, in a statement, said the SPA “recognizes on a daily basis the positive contributions of dockworkers, our port employees and the greater maritime community to the global economy.”

Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_