The International Longshoreman's Association has delayed until Monday the scheduled voting to end the two-month-old strike against "automated" shippers.
The reasons for the dealy are last-minute snags in local settlements in three cities - and a resulting general strike in Baltimore, the second largest port on the Eastern Seaboard.
More than 4,000 dock workers in Baltimore refused to accept work orders yesterday on both automated and non-automated ships in the dock. The action came after authorization came from ILA international president Thomas W. "Teddy" Gleason, who said that shippers there and in New Orleans and Philadelphia were "dilly dallying" in negotiations.
But union leaders in Philadelphia and New Orleans chose to continue to work on non-automated ships while negotiations continued.
The union had reached master agreements for all 34 port areas from Maine to Texas during the past weeks. Isolated local issues, however, have stalled plans for the membership to vote on final ratification.
John Kopp, the ILA local vice president in Baltimore, said the action by his local was taken because the local Steamship Trade Association's latest offer was "a farce."
The final issue preventing a settlement is Guaranteed Annual Income, a clause designed to protect the income of dock workers died by automation.
The union is demanding that senior workers who refuse a job that eventually is given to a junior worker be paid even if another job does not come up.
Presently, only junior men are eligible for such payments if they are denied jobs because of seniority.
The GAI issue is being handled locally in each of the port cities. The master agreement, involving the basic wage and benefit package, is expected to be approved easily by the 55,000 union members who will be voting on Monday.
One negtiator for the shippers called the Baltimore GAI demand "too costly, costly to the point where the port could not survive."
He said the union injected the latest demand "at the last moment," but added that there is now "a great deal of pressure coming down on both sides to settle."
"We have more than 30 ships tied up here," port official Greg Halpin said.
Another port official, administrator Joseph Stanlon, said the State Maryland " a minimum of $5 million a day."