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Legislative Memo

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BILL:

A.5274 (Farrell) S.5039 (Hassell-Thompson)

  Support

SUBJECT:

AN ACT to amend the waterfront commission act, in relation to empowering the waterfront commission to accept applications in the longshoremen's register; and to repeal section 5-p of such act

 

A.5274 (Farrell) S.5039 (Hassell-Thompson)

DATE:

May 12, 2009

 

The Business Council of New York State SUPPORTS this legislation that would amend the Waterfront Commission Act to empower the waterfront commission to accept applications in the longshoremen's register; and repeals section 5-p of such act.

Thirty-nine years ago New York and New Jersey supplemented their bi-state Waterfront Commission Compact by enacting Section 5-p, the "controlled register statute." The statute empowers the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor to control the size of the longshore workforce in the PONYNJ by periodically opening and closing the register of persons licensed to work on the docks. Employers in the PONYNJ are the only employers in the nation denied the ability to perform the basic management function of hiring new workers or replacing those lost through attrition and retirement.

Section 5-p has become an anachronism that impedes the expeditious hiring and training of additional dock workers needed to handle cargo. Failure to have an adequate workforce skilled in the operation of modern cargo-handling equipment has hindered and will continue to hinder efficient Port operations and threatens the economic engine propelled by the Port.

At risk is the Port's hard-won share of international trade that can easily be diverted to other ports. In 2008, The Port of New York and New Jersey handled 5.3 million loaded and unloaded 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) with a total dollar value of all cargo exceeding $190 billion, a new record. Over 230,000 jobs are attributed to the ports contributing more than $6 billion in regional taxes and $20 billion in regional Gross Domestic Product.

The continued economic prosperity and growth of the PONYNJ is under intense pressure from the Atlantic Coast ports of Norfolk, Charleston and Savannah. Each of these competing ports provide significant economic advantages including workforce flexibility, lower business operating costs, a growing consumer population, significant infrastructure investments and other pro-business incentives.

Enactment of this legislation would give employers in the Port of New York and New Jersey the authority to control the size of the longshore workforce without the four-decade old constraints of the Waterfront Commission Act. In addition, this legislation would permit the Waterfront Commission to continue screening candidates entering the workforce to help ensure the character necessary to enjoy a productive career in the highly competitive global shipping industry.

With the projected growth in trade and seaport investments over the next 10 years, New York should follow the lead of New Jersey State legislature which overwhelmingly passed the required companion legislation. On September 10, 2007, New Jersey Governor Jon S. Corzine signed (A.3123/S.2018) into law (P.L.2007, c.167).

Accordingly, The Business Council of New York State supports A.5274 (Farrell) / S.5039 (Hassell-Thompson).