Retailers are calling on the Biden administration to intervene in tense labor negotiations in the West Coast port

The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, released a statement Monday calling on the Biden administration to intervene in tense labor negotiations at West Coast ports. The request comes in response to reports of closures at the ports of Oakland and Los Angeles over the weekend after tensions between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) escalated last week.

At least one terminal in the Port of Long Beach, specifically Total Terminals International (TTI), was also closed on Monday.

The unrest comes after the ILWU and PMA failed to reach a new working agreement after more than a year of negotiations.

“The ports of the United States, particularly those on the West Coast, play a vital role in the vitality of the American economy. Thousands of retailers and other businesses depend on ports to run smoothly and efficiently to deliver goods to consumers every day,” said David French, senior vice president of government relations at NRF.

French also expressed concern about the impact of these additional disruptions as the holidays approached, saying they would force retailers and shipping partners to divert cargo away from West Coast ports pending a new labor contract. He stressed the importance of all parties returning to the negotiating table and urged the government to mediate in the process to ensure a quick solution without further disruption.

The new contract, which is currently being negotiated, will apply to more than 22,000 longshoremen in 29 ports on the West Coast of the United States. Negotiations began on May 10, 2022 after the previous agreement expired on July 1, 2022. The ILWU and PMA continue to meet regularly in San Francisco for negotiations.

On Friday, the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents shipping lines and terminal operators, reported that West Coast dockers represented by the ILWU had “virtually closed some terminals at all major container gateways on the US West Coast.”

The Southern California section of the ILWU said Friday that cargo operations in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach will continue, but that Southern California members have taken it upon themselves to “express displeasure with the position of shipping lines and terminal operators.” “.

Later on Friday, the ILWU released a statement reaffirming its commitment to negotiating a “fair and just” agreement. International President Willie Adams stressed that all reports of a failure of the negotiations are false.

“We’re getting there, but it’s important to understand that dockers on the West Coast have kept the economy afloat during the pandemic and lost their lives in the process,” Adams said. “We will not settle for an economic package that fails to recognize the heroic efforts and personal sacrifices of the ILWU workforce that have brought record profits to the shipping industry.”

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