Nearly 50,000 dock workers in ports from Maine to Texas returned to work last night signalling the end of a two-month strike that crippled the containerized shipping industry.
The end came after membership of the International Longshoremen's Association voted "better than two-to-one" yesterday to approve a new three-year contract, according to Thomas W. "Teddy" Gleason, the union's president.
The members voted by secret ballot for eight hours, and only a simple majority was needed. Dissident locals in Philadelphia and New Orleans planned to vote today, but Gleason said he expected no trouble with acceptance at those ports.
In Baltimore, the five ILA locals voted to accept the new pact by a 1,315-to-929 vote. The 4,000 Baltimore members were the only group to expand the strike from containerized ships to all vessels last week because of local contract problems.
The largest Baltimore local, 333, voted 859 to 487 against the national pact.In an interview with the Associated Press, it's president, Garris McFadden, called the contract a "sellout" to the shippers and biased in favor of black longshoremen.
The contract calls for hourly wages to jump from $8 to $10.40 over three years, a strong job security package, and large increases in pension and welfare contributions by employers.
Since the strike began on Oct. 1, the effects on the economy have increased gradually. On Monday, the Commerce Department blamed the walkout for the nation's record $3.1 billion foreign trade deficit in October.
State officials in Virginia estimated their losses alone to be about $12 million. In New York, some 2 million long tons of cargo worth $4 billion were held up - including many items earmarked for Christmas sale in stores all along the eastern seaboard.
Some local unions had been holding up a national membership vote all last week because of local issues, mostly clauses. Gleason finally decided last Friday to go ahead with voting Monday.
"If Philadelphia wants to wait, that's their problem," Gleason said last week. "We're not holding up for them."
The dock workers are expected to put in a large amount of overtime to erase the backlog of vessels needing to be loaded or unloaded.