Dock workers dump pineapples in protest

The Inquirer Posted on Mon, Sep. 6, 2010

By Jane M. Von Bergen

In a Labor Day demonstration, Philadelphia union dock workers dumped cases of Del Monte
pineapples into the Delaware River today to protest Del Monte's decision to switch its
banana shipping business to a different port.

The International Longshoremen's Association Local 1291 will lose 200 to 300 jobs -
400,000 labor hours a year - when Del Monte Fresh Produce Co. shifts 75 ships and a half
million tons of banana cargo from Camden to the privately-owned Gloucester Terminals
L.L.C., which pays workers less.

The protest, at Penn's Landing, came as Philadelphia's labor community was heading to the
site for its yearly picnic, following the annual parade along Columbus Boulevard.
The ILA union says the Gloucester workers are paid below industry standards - between
$12 and $17 an hour, some with no benefits.

With concessions that the union offered Del Monte to keep the business, dock and terminal
workers would have earned $21.50 to $22.50 an hour, down from a top rate of $31 an

Leo Holt, whose family runs the Gloucester facility as well as the Packer Avenue Marine
Terminal in South Philadelphia, said in an earlier interview that Del Monte's move had
"nothing to do with labor, and everything to do with having a facility that is up to the
modern levels of capacity and abilities" Del Monte needs.

Holt declined to discuss wages but said his employees earn more than $12 an hour.
The bananas had been shipped into the South Jersey Port Corp., which runs the Broadway
and Beckett Street Terminals in Camden.

For example, a Del Monte vessel entering and departing Camden's Broadway terminal
needs two tugs, Holt said. At Gloucester, they'll need one tug to dock and none to leave.
Del Monte will continue to pay $1.4 million to the South Jersey Port Corp. until 2020 when
its lease expires, but its agreement with Delaware River Stevedores, which employs Local
1291 members, ends in December. Del Monte and the union had had a 20-year
relationship, the union said.

Del Monte's decision would cut union hours at ports in Philadelphia, Camden and
Wilmington by about 25 percent. Messages left for Del Monte officials were unreturned by
this morning.

Contact staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen at 215-854-2769 or
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