SHIPPERS URGE ILWU, PMA TO RESOLVE CONTRACT DISPUTES
A group of shippers want the leaders of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association to return to the table to finish the West Coast dock labor contract.
“We are deeply concerned that the union has decided to walk away from these negotiations which seem to have barely even begun,” said Robin Lanier, executive director of the West Coast Waterfront Coalition.
The coalition represents importers and exporters of products that enter the United States through West Coast ports. Since February, the coalition has urged the ILWU and PMA to “negotiate in good faith.”
“Obviously, we will wait and see what develops this week, but the rupture in the negotiations and the expiration of the old contract sends an ominous message to those who rely on the ports,” Lanier said. “We understand that slowdowns at the ports are occurring right now.”
A complete work stoppage on West Coast would hamper the movement of imported holiday merchandise and injure the exports of U.S. agricultural shippers from the region, the coalition said.
“We expect both sides to be tough, but they need to give it more than a few hours of their time at the table before disrupting the nation’s economy,” Lanier said. “Perhaps some third-party mediator could help move these discussions to a win-win solution for both sides, especially since the impact on the U.S. economy will be so large.”
The White House has threatened to intervene if port disruptions hurt the country’s peak shipping season or logistical support to U.S. troops overseas.