The Juneau Empire published an interesting article this morning about how the cruise industry routinely ignores a U.S. law requiring the use of U.S. longshore workers to perform certain duties, such as operating tender boats and handling cargo and luggage.
The newspaper reports that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) plans to picket today over the practice of the cruise lines which refuse to utilize U.S. union workers when the foreign flagged cruise ships call on Juneau and other ports in Alaska.
The president of the local longshore union (Alaska Longshore Division Local 200 Unit 16) is quoted in the newspaper as saying that the cruise industry is in "blatant disregard" of the Immigration and Nationality Act – INA: ACT 258 (Limitations On Performance Of Longshore work By Alien Crewmen).
A representative of the cruise industry responded to the longshore union’s complaints by stating that the cruise ships only recently began utilizing U.S. ship crew members for tender boat operations after the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol required the use of American employees.
The issue remains whether the cruise lines are violating the INA by not using union workers to perform the tender and other longshore operations.
The union representative stated that the union employees intend to demonstrate in Juneau and later in Sitka and Ketchikan, but are not going to disrupt the cruise ship operations.
in addition to Alaska, the ILWU primarily represents dock workers on the West Coast of the U.S., Hawaii and British Columbia, Canada. The union was established in 1937 after the 1934 "West Coast Waterfront Strike," a 3 month long strike that turned violent in California.
This issue is just the latest dispute between the ILWU and the cruise industry. Cruise ships routinely try and use their non-U.S. non-union crewmembers to perform shore-side longshore duties such cargo work, baggage handling, tender operations, and making electrical power connections when the cruise ships are in port.