President John Nardi explains the name “change,” positions on port employment issues and interstate controversy.

What’s in a Name? The New York Shipping Association recently changed its name—kind of. The association is still officially known by its original name, but it filed a legal “doing business as” [DBA] document which identifies it as the Shipping Association of New York and New Jersey.

The key roles of the organization, founded in 1955, are to negotiate collective bargaining agreements on behalf of maritime terminal operators with the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and to provide some of the labor force that moves cargo at the port.

“When we were first incorporated,” said John Nardi, the association’s president, “90% of the business in the port was in New York. Now, 90% is in New Jersey.”

The association’s original name tended to sow confusion among prospective employees and public officials in recent years. “I’ve been thinking about this name change for some time,” said Nardi, who has headed the organization since 2013.

Nardi, who recently was named person-of-the-year by the New York New Jersey Foreign Freight Forwarders and Brokers Association, related a story on the evolution of the name-change.

Several years back, at a town hall meeting on port employment, one of the audience members asked how to apply to become a longshoreman. “The person answering the question said, ‘Just go to New York Shipping Association (NYSA) and they’ll tell you what to do,’” Nardi related. “And the person in the crowd said, ‘Well, why do I have to go to the New York Shipping Association?’ And the guy said, ‘Because they’re the ones who handle the hiring.’ We didn’t realize until the next day that the person was really asking, ‘Why do I have to go to New York for a job in New Jersey?’”

Similar responses come when Shipping Association officials called on legislators in Trenton, New Jersey’s capital, or the state’s representatives in Washington, D.C. “When we’d tell them we’re from the New York Shipping Association, they often ask, ‘Oh, so what are you doing here?’ said Nardi. “The name Shipping Association of New York and New Jersey better represents who we are and what we do.”

New Jersey’s Port Question

New Jersey’s dominance in regional port operations in recent years has represented a bone of contention between the two states, to the point where litigation between the two is now pending before the United States Supreme Court. At issue is the proposed dissolution by New Jersey of the Waterfront Commission, a bi-state agency that plays a key role in the hiring of longshore labor. It’s especially relevant at this moment when the port has seen cargo volumes increase by over 35% since 2019 and requires several hundred new port employees.

“You can’t just hire somebody off the street and make him a longshoreman,” said Nardi. “There is a significant amount of training that goes in into it. We find ourselves behind the curve right now.”

The Waterfront Commission tends to…

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