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NY Ports Chief Calls Docks Bastions of Discrimination, Vows Action

Friday, February 24, 2012 - 02:06 PM

Red Hook, Brooklyn. (Photo (cc) by Flickr user f.trainer)

The head of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey wants to use the agency's clout as landlord to get more dock workers of color hired.

Patrick Foye said, "I regret having to say it, but the docks at our ports on both the New York and New Jersey side appear to be one of the last bastions in the region of what can only be described as  deliberate racial and gender discrimination."

He said that dock workers are approximately 85 percent white and over 90 percent male, citing statistics from the Waterfront Commission. "This is not acceptable," Foye told union members and academics gathered for an NYU event about low pay rates for airport workers Wednesday.

Foye also called the racial and gender homogeneity of dock workers, "inexcusable inertia with respect to fair and diverse hiring." The PA head, who is took his post in November, promised strong action. The Port Authority owns the docks and leases the property to freight shipping and other companies.

"I intend to use every tool at our disposal," he said, "including leases with new customers, lease extensions and modifications with our existing customers, and most importantly, conditioning the Port Authority's future investments of billions of dollars in improvements on first reaching acceptable, concrete and enforceable, diversity hiring plans."

The International Longshoremen's Association, the union representing workers at the port of New York and New Jersey, controls hiring for new dock workers. At hearings last year, the ILA argued that they could not find sufficient non-white candidates for stevedore positions. The ILA did not return TN's requests for comment.

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