NewsKey Bridge Collapse


Payments to port workers on the way as collapse limits hours

Port of Baltimore .jpeg
Posted at 5:39 PM, Apr 19, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-19 18:18:23-04

BALTIMORE, MD — With the channel blocked and ships not getting through, workers used to 80-hour paychecks are now getting just a few hours.

"We're daily hires, a lot of us, so it's like hitting a brick wall, the checks just stop, you're not a salaried employee they didn't know what to do," said Scott Cowan, the president of the international longshoremen's association, local 333.

In the waning hours of the legislative session, the Port Act passed.

It gives the governor's office the ability to provide direct payments to workers.

"The number one thing that we're doing is taking care of our people," said Lt. Governor Aruna Miller.

Payments started going out this week.

The money won't make workers whole, but it keeps them employed until the port reopens.

"So it's $60 million that's available to workers and small businesses. So it might come through UI(unemployment insurance) benefits or grants or small business loans," said Lt. Gov. Miller.

"They're not what these guys are used to making, but it'll help keep food on the table, pay the bills, and keep the wolves away," said Cowan.

The payments go to the businesses, then to the workers, keeping them on the payroll until the channel is open.

"We don't want them looking for jobs anywhere else. We want them to be ready on day one when everything is open," said Lt. Gov. Miller.

"We'll be ready to go back to work. These guys are chomping at the bit once we get these ships back in here and get back to going strong," said Cowan.

On Friday, Governor Wes Moore announced the start of theBaltimore Worker Support Program, which will provide cash assistance to workers that are eligible.

“This new program will provide $430 in weekly relief to Port workers who have lost pay and work hours due to the Key Bridge collapse,” said Gov. Moore. “Our mission is to help as many people as we can during this difficult time – including Port workers who have already applied for unemployment insurance benefits; including Port workers who are receiving unemployment insurance; and including independent contractors and self-employed workers who work at the Port and are losing income because of the collapse.”

To be eligible for the program, you need to have worked at the Port of Baltimore at least 25 times or earned at least $5,000 from port jobs between January 1 and March 26, 2024.

The Maryland Department of Labor will also open a temporary service center, located at 2501 Broening Highway in Baltimore City, and provide in-person help to answer questions about about eligibility and to fill out applications forms beginning Monday, April 22, at noon. On Tuesday, the site will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The goal is for a limited channel to be open by the end of this month and the entire channel to be opened by the end of May.