RILA: Obama needs to take action on port strike

Arlington, Va. -- In a letter sent Wednesday, Retail Industry Leaders Association president Sandy Kennedy asked President Obama to take action to prevent a work stoppage at the East and Gulf Coast ports.

Negotiations on Dec. 18 did not produce a resolution between the International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance, foreshadowing a shutdown of the Eastern and Gulf ports by the end of the year.

“RILA is extremely concerned about the potential short and long-term consequences to our members, their employees and customers as well as to the economy if cargo is stalled along the East and Gulf Coast ports,” said Kennedy. “If a work stoppage occurs at the end of the month, it will substantially affect the already delicate economy.”

In 2002, the West Coast work stoppage caused an estimated $15 billion in reported losses. Last month, an eight-day work stoppage at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach caused shipping delays for hundreds of millions of dollars in cargo. The 14 ports potentially affected by a strike account for 95% of all containerized shipments offloaded on the Eastern seaboard.

“In order to prevent another prolonged and damaging stoppage, we respectfully request you put the weight of the White House behind resolving this dispute and bringing the ILA and USMX back to the negotiating table,” Kennedy concluded.