DAILY NEWS Feb 2, 2013 7:07 PM - 0 comments

Shippers breathing sigh of relief after tentative deal reached in US East & Gulf Coast labor negotiations

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WASHINGTON, DC – The United States Maritime Alliance and the International Longshoremen's Association have reached a tentative deal on a long-term master contract, likely averting a costly strike that would have crippled US East and Gulf Coast ports starting this Wednesday.

The new port labor contract covers container operations in each of the 14 East and Gulf Coast ports, from Maine to Texas. Closure of these ports due to strike action would also have impacted Canadian retailers using these ports.  

The tentative agreement is subject to the ratification procedures of both parties and, as well, to agreements being achieved in a number of local union negotiations. 

“Those local negotiations are ongoing and will continue without interruption to any port operation.  Out of respect for the parties' ratification processes, and consistent with the Agency's long-standing confidentiality policy, we will not disclose any details concerning the substantive provisions that have been reached," said  Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director George H. Cohen.

The National Retail Federation urged the parties to quickly complete any outstanding negotiations, including local negotiations at each of the individual 14 ports, and quickly ratify the new labor agreement. 

“Throughout the process, NRF has stressed the vital economic importance of keeping the ports open to international trade and commerce. Our ports and the cargo that flows through them, be it automobiles or ottomans, are truly our economic lifeline to the world,” said National Retail Federation president and CEO Matthew Shay.  “If the tentative agreement holds, the new labor contract will bring much-needed certainty and predictability to the supply chain for retailers, manufacturers, farmers and other industries that rely on the ports to move the nation’s commerce and trade.”

The NRF says the retail industry supports one in every four U.S. jobs.

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