Union votes to spend $50k to assist embattled assemblyman

The International Longshoreman’s Association Local 1588 is helping William Sampson get his crane operator license back

The International Longshoreman’s Association Local 1588 has voted to help their member, State Assemblyman for the 31st Legislative District William Sampson, get his job on the waterfront back.

Sampson was removed from the workplace and his crane operator license was revoked for failing to meet the work and work availability requirements in January to June of 2022.

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Sampson, a 33-year-old legislator first sworn in back in 2022 to the applause of local Democrats, represents the district encompassing Bayonne and parts of Jersey City as part of the trio of African-American lawmakers including State Senator Sandra Cunningham and State Assemblywoman Angela McKnight.

He is the first African-American person from Bayonne to hold the position and replaced then-Assembly Whip Nicholas Chiaravalloti, who had an unspecified falling out with Mayor James Davis, who has final say over the official Hudson County Democratic Organization endorsement for that Assembly seat.

Regardless, Sampson vowed to keep his job as longshoreman while working in the legislature, he told the Bayonne Community News 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, but his local union is trying to help him do so.

The union voted to spend $50,000 to help him get his crane operator license back after the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor revoked it and removed him from his longshoreman position on the waterfront. Citing “excessive absenteeism,” the Waterfront Commission argued that there was no excuse for Sampson’s repeated absences in 2022 and made their decision in December of last year.

Meanwhile Sampson first argued in a statement to BCN that the Waterfront Commission was taking its anger out on Sampson over issues that are above his pay grade. New Jersey, under Governor Phil Murphy, has sought to withdraw from the Waterfront Commission, founded in the 1950s to combat organized crime at the ports. 

However, New York has sued to stop the withdrawal, sending the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court, and a support brief from the United States has been filed in support of New Jersey’s decision. Sampson said that he was getting caught in the crossfire over the Commission’s dissatisfaction with the situation.

Following that, Sampson put out another statement to BCN that he was appealing to the Waterfront Commission to change their minds and that his work as a State Assemblyman justified his absenteeism. On January 4, Sampson’s attorney Robert Flagella further argued that Sampson’s duties in the General Assembly are also part of serving his union, according to a PoliticoPro subscriber exclusive story.

The argument comes after the Waterfront Commission wrote in their initial ruling revoking Sampson’s license that his duties as a state legislator did not meet “good cause” for repeated absences for his job as a crane operator at Global Container Terminals. He apparently could not rectify the absences and other issues raised by the Waterfront Commission in 2022, leading to the action.

In the wake of the appeal before the Waterfront Commission, Sampson’s union voted to approve a resolution on January 4 to spend $50,000 to help Sampson out. Anonymous sources told the Hudson County View the union approved the resolution at an emergency meeting at The Chandelier restaurant and catering at 1081 Broadway.

According to the sources, the resolution was not put in writing. However, it indicated that the $50,000 would be spent on legal expenses for Sampson’s appeal and or public relation services related to the incident.

Sources told HCV Sampson’s lawyer Fagella is also the counsel for the ILA and membership, raising questions over if Sampson or the union was paying him. Amid the embroiled Assemblyman’s pleas for a reversal, the Waterfront Commission is set to decide the matter by the end of the month.

“I along with the ILA International will be working to appeal this decision to allow me to continue working in the industry as I have my whole life,” Sampson previously said in a statement. “I believe that this decision is not only legally incorrect but contains numerous factual errors.”

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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