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Federal court backs New Jersey's bid to end NY Waterfront Commission

A FEDERAL appeals court has ruled in favour of New Jersey pulling out of the old crime-fighting Waterfront Commission that now oversees longshore hiring practices at the Port of New York and New Jersey, reports Newark's Journal of Commerce

10 June 2020 - 19:06

A FEDERAL appeals court has ruled in favour of New Jersey pulling out of the old crime-fighting Waterfront Commission that now oversees longshore hiring practices at the Port of New York and New Jersey, reports Newark's Journal of Commerce.

New Jersey can now begin a 90-day countdown for dissolving the Waterfront Commission that has since taken to law enforcement to ensure racial and gender diversity in hiring.



The decision from the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, which had the support of longshore labour and other port stakeholders, will allow New Jersey's State Police to perform background checks on hiring at the nation's second-busiest port complex, instead of the Waterfront Commission.



The appeals court weighed in after the Waterfront Commission filed a lawsuit against New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy in January 2018 in response to the state repealing the law that created the 50-year old compact with New York to perform background checks on hiring practices at the two states' ports.



Proponents of reducing the agency's role - which include the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA), New Jersey legislators, the Maritime Association of the Port of New York and New Jersey, and the New York Shipping Association (NYSA) - have argued the commission oversteps its authority to combat crime on the docks and slows down hiring.



The Waterfront Commission - an independent, bi-state agency with two commissioners, one each appointed by New York and New Jersey - has countered its work to fight racketeering and ensure fair hiring, which increases port costs, is needed.



The commission's lawsuit against the governor sought to strike down New Jersey's repeal based on the Supremacy Clause of the Constitution because the US Congress originally consented to the Waterfront Commission's formation and to issue an injunction against New Jersey's withdrawal.



A district court originally supported the Waterfront Commission's case, saying the original agreement did not intend for unilateral withdrawal.



But in a decision filed Friday, the US Court of Appeals for the Third District ruled that the 'suit impinges on the State of New Jersey's sovereignty, thereby depriving the District Court of jurisdiction.'


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