Manufacturers Call for White House Intervention in West Coast Port Labor Dispute - Modern Distribution Management

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Manufacturers Call for White House Intervention in West Coast Port Labor Dispute

Manufacturing and retailer associations have called on the White House to step in on the labor dispute between 22,000 dockworkers and their employers.
terminal-dockworkers-Port of LA

As the stakes of port disruptions on the West Coast become clearer, associations representing manufacturers and retailers have called on the White House to intervene in the labor dispute between dockworkers and the ports.

After reports of disruptions at terminals at Ports of Oakland and Long Beach in California, the National Retail Federation’s Senior Vice President of Government Relations David French reasserted the association’s previous call on the administration to engage with the port employer’s and dockworkers union to help them finalize a contract.

“As we enter the peak shipping season for the holidays, these additional disruptions will force retailers and other important shipping partners to continue to shift cargo away from the West Coast ports until a new labor contract is established,” he wrote in a statement. “It is imperative that the parties return to the negotiating table. We urge the administration to mediate to ensure the parties quickly finalize a new contract without additional disruptions.”

Jay Timmons, President and CEO of the National Association of Manufacturers — which claims to represent 12 million American manufacturers, took to Twitter to likewise call on the administration to step in. 

“Manufacturers implore the [White House] to bring negotiating parties together and reopen America’s shipping gateways on the West Coast,” Timmons tweeted.

According to a Reuters report, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the administration continues to monitor the situation.

The Biden administration is no stranger to stepping in on negotiations. Just last year, Biden was involved in mediating labor negotiations with rail workers to head off a strike that threatened major disruption to the supply chain.

Meanwhile, CNBC reported that on June 6, at least one major U.S. railroad, Union Pacific, had temporarily paused all U.S. exports and empty containers to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach because of rail congestion.

Late last week and into this week, several ports reported disruptions and shutdowns due to some dockworkers not coming into work. More than 22,000 dockworkers of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) at ports stretching from California to Washington have been in contract negotiations with port employer’s of the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) since last summer. 

From pre-pandemic levels through 2022, the percentage of ILWU wages and benefits continued to drop compared to PMA rising revenues, according to the ILWU. 

“Any reports that negotiations have broken down are false,” said ILWU President Willie Adams in a statement on Twitter. “We are getting there but it’s important to understand that West Coast dockworkers kept the economy going during the pandemic and lost their lives doing so.  We aren’t going to settle for an economic package that doesn’t recognize the heroic efforts and personal sacrifices of the ILWU workforce that lifted the shipping industry to record profits.”

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