Federal appeals court upholds NLRB’s South Carolina Leatherman Terminal ruling



(The Center Square) — The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 to uphold a National Labor Relations Board decision that only union employees can operate the cranes at the Port of Charleston’s Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal.

In 2021, the International Longshoremen Association sued the United States Maritime Alliance, Hapag-Lloyd and Orient Overseas Container Line for breaching a contract stipulating that only union employees can operate cranes at ports.

The Port of Charleston used nonunion employees at the $1 billion Leatherman Terminal in North Charleston, which opened in March 2021 and is governed by a master contract between the United States Maritime Association and the ILA. In December, the NLRB ruled that the Leatherman Terminal must use the union employees even though South Carolina is a “right-to-work” state.

In December, the NLRB reversed an administrative law judge’s ruling that the ILA’s “secondary boycott” of the Leatherman Terminal barring carriers from using it until union members handle all container work at the port was unlawful.

“By accepting the NLRB’s contorted definition of ‘work preservation’ to allow ILA union officials to gain control over port jobs that have never been under union control, the 2-1 Fourth Circuit decision has put the jobs of hundreds of union-free South Carolina state employees at Charleston’s Leatherman Terminal on the chopping block,” National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix said in a statement. “It is outrageous that these jobs, created with the investment of over $1 billion in South Carolina taxpayer dollars, will now be handed over to ILA union bosses to protect their monopoly on port jobs that stretches from Texas to Maine.”

The case is South Carolina Ports Authority v. National Labor Relations Board.



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