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Dockworkers Protest Hiring Freeze At Ports Of Newark, Elizabeth

Port Elizabeth in Newark, New Jersey (Credit: Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

Port Elizabeth in Newark, New Jersey (Credit: Chris Hondros/Getty Images)

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ELIZABETH, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Unions and businesses have come together to criticize a lack of staffing at northern New Jersey’s ports.

As WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond reported, Longshoremen, their employers and elected officials attended a boisterous rally hoping to force waterfront regulators to speed the approval of new hires.

They contend the dockworkers hiring freeze is killing business at the Ports Newark and Elizabeth.

“We need to hire 682 people. We’re going to need another 200 people next year,” John Nardi of the New York Shipping Association said.

Charles Wowkanech, president New Jersey’s AFL-CIO, said shippers are diverting cargo to avoid paying overtime.

“The cost of unloading the ships, because it’s all done on overtime because we don’t have enough workers, they’re sending the ships to other ports of call,” he told Diamond. “Once they go there, they might not come back.”

The Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor commissioners are appointed by the governors of New York and New Jersey.

“We’re asking both governors to use their executive powers to help us break up this logjam,” said Wowkanech.

The commission said the Longshoreman didn’t live up to a pledge to set aside jobs for veterans returning from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Port of Newark is the largest on the East Coast. It moves more than 3 million containers each year, adding up to $100 billion in goods.

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