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Legislative Memo

Frank Kerbein
Director, Center for Human Resources
T 518.465.7511 x210
www.bcnys.org

BILL:

A.7155-B (Cusick) / S.4668-A (Lanza)

  Support

SUBJECT:

Empowers the Waterfront Commission to accept applications in the longshoremen's register

 

A.7155-B (Cusick) / S.4668-A (Lanza)

DATE:

June 8, 2011

 

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 the act.

Forty-five 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 2010, 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. Over 270,000 direct and in-direct 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, Baltimore, 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 ability to add to the longshore workforce when necessary to meet the requirements of their customers without the four-decade old constraints of Section 5-p of the Waterfront Commission Act. In addition, this legislation would permit the Waterfront Commission to continue all aspects of its law enforcement mission unabated. The Waterfront Commission’s continued screening of every candidate attempting to enter the workforce will ensure that only individuals with the character necessary to enjoy a productive career in the highly competitive global shipping industry are identified for entry and are allowed to remain in the Port workforce.

With the Panama Canal Expansion Project nearing its scheduled 2014 completion date, the projected growth in direct all water service from the Far East to the East Coast of the United States will provide enormous economic growth and job creation opportunities for states with regional seaport facilities along the coast who are prepared to capitalize.  New York should follow the lead of the 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).

For these reasons, The Business Council supports A.7155 (Cusick) / S.4668 (Lanza) and urges that it be enacted by the New York State Legislature.