It’s time for a federal mediator to step in to help settle contract negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association, according to 160 national, state and local trade associations and organizations representing the interests of the global supply chain and local communities.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association have been negotiating a new labor contract, which covers dockworkers at the 29 West Coast ports. The previous contract expired on July 1, 2014. Even though the two sides have been meeting regularly, recent reports of labor slowdowns and increasing port congestion have alarmed the supply chain community and raised fears of a potential port shutdown.
“The supply chain community is united in its call on President Obama to appoint a federal mediator to help the parties resolve the ongoing contract dispute,” National Retail Federation Vice President for Supply Chain Jonathan Gold said. “After months of talks, the two sides have made very little discernible progress toward a new contract, however they have succeeded in disrupting the global supply chain, increasing port congestion for importers and exporters, delaying shipments for retailers, manufacturers, farmers and others, and potentially harming the long-term competitiveness of the West Coast ports,” said National Retail Federation Vice President for Supply Chain Jonathan Gold.
This is not the first time that the groups requested a mediator. In a November letter to the White House the PMA called on the administration to consider appointing a mediator through the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service. To date that request, as well as several others made by shippers and stakeholders, has gone unanswered.
On Dec. 23 the group sent another letter. “The longer these negotiations continue, the greater the negative impact this will have on jobs, down-stream consumers and the business operations of exporters, importers, retailers, transportation providers, manufacturers, and other stakeholders,” the letter said. “With an official request from the PMA for a mediator, we urge the administration to work with both parties to appoint a mediator from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.”