Classical economic theory was on display on January 29, when more than 4,000 International Longshoremen's Association workers exercised their monopoly power and unexpectedly walked off the job, shutting down the Ports of New York and New Jersey for the better part of a day. ILA officials were quoted as saying they did not know why the workers had gone on strike. In any event, the ILA leadership ordered them back to work after an arbitrator issued an emergency ruling that the stoppage violated the no-strike provision in the current collective bargaining agreement. Work resumed about 8 p.m.
The ILA represents employees of members of the New York Shipping Association under a contract covering operations of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The workers were reportedly protesting alleged "interference" by the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, which deals with crime on the waterfront — remember the investigation of Lee J. Cobb as mob-connected union boss Johnny Friendly in On the Waterfront? — but it wasn't clear exactly what that "interference" was.