Democrat William V. Sampson, the State Assemblyman for the 31st Legislative District, is asking the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor to reconsider their recent decision to remove him as a longshoreman and revoke his crane operator license on December 21.
According to the Waterfront Commission, Sampson was removed over “excessive absenteeism” throughout parts of 2022 after taking office that year.
In an initial statement following the decision, Sampson previously blamed the matter on the Waterfront Commission taking out its frustration on him over a spat between the commission, New York, and New Jersey. While New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has tried to withdraw the state from the Commission, which was created in the ’50s to curb mob influence at the ports, New York has sued to halt the move.
The case is on its way to being heard in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, although the U.S. has filed a brief in support of New Jersey’s withdrawal. In a statement on December 29 to the Bayonne Community News, Sampson began by expressing his pride in serving the 31st Legislative District encompassing Bayonne and parts of Jersey City.
“It is a privilege and an honor to serve as the Assemblyman for the 31st Legislative District,” Sampson said. “Representative democracy works best when persons are fully involved in the life of the community.”
Sampson is the first African-American from Bayonne to hold the position of state Assemblyman. His election also saw the 31st Legislative District be represented entirely by a trio of African-American lawmakers for the first time in its history, including state Sen. Sandra Cunningham and Assemblywoman Angela McKnight.
The move to endorse Sampson, which was applauded by officials across the county, followed Mayor James Davis and the Hudson County Democratic Organization dropping then-incumbent Assemblyman and Majority Whip Nicholas Chiaravalloti from the ticket. Sampson had never had a political position prior and Davis has never explained the reasoning behind the maneuver.
Regardless, Sampson vowed to keep his job as longshoreman while working in the legislature, he told BCN during a phone interview from the cockpit of the crane he was operating at the time in 2021. It appears that may no longer be possible, despite what Sampson described as steadfast support from his employer and the union he is part of.
According to Sampson, he received approval from the Global Container Terminals of Bayonne and the International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1588 before running for state Assembly. He said that they both supported him in his endeavor.
“Prior to my candidacy for General Assembly, I had asked for the approval of my employer, Global Container Terminals of Bayonne, as well as the International Longshoremen’s Association, of which I am a member. In both cases, Global and the ILA understood this legislative opportunity as a way to “give back” to the local community through service and to work to provide better training, and to increase the potential of investment in challenged neighborhoods.”
Sampson said this support has continued up until this day. He said they never asked him to reduce any of his responsibilities at the State House to work more on the waterfront.
“I consistently enjoyed the support of both Global Container Terminals and the ILA,” Sampson said. “At no point did either Global or the ILA request that I reduce my obligations to the State Legislature or to the community.”
According to Sampson, he is upset with the Waterfront Commission’s decision. He said they are already revisiting the issue.
“I am disappointed that the Waterfront Commission took this action,” Sampson said. “Respectfully, we have asked the Waterfront Commission to revisit this issue, which to my understanding, it is now so doing.”
Sampson said he takes both jobs seriously. He also formally appealed to the Waterfront Commission to rethink their decision.
“I have respect for the rule of law, for the responsibilities of the Waterfront Commission, and for my employers,” Sampson said. “I take my responsibilities seriously. I look forward to continue working for Global Containers Terminals, which candidly sets a standard of excellence in the industry, as well as the International Longshoremen’s Association, whose leadership in American labor stands as a benchmark of quality. I respectfully request the Waterfront Commission to reconsider its decision. Thank you.”
For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.