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Retailers welcome ratification of port contract


WASHINGTON, D.C.–The National Retail Federation issued the following statement May 22 from Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold on news that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union ratified a five-year labour contract with the Pacific Maritime Association covering dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports:

“At long last the year-long contract dispute between the ILWU and PMA has come to an end. Shippers can rest a bit easier knowing that the West Coast ports will be more stable over the next few years. While we are happy to see the contract ratified it’s not going to be long before we go through this process all over again.

“The past year was fraught with disruptions, slowdowns and partial shutdowns. This is something we will no longer tolerate. The world is changing, and our ports must adapt to ensure they provide shippers with the predictability and stability they need. We can no longer accept last-minute negotiations and months and months of talks while slowdowns and stoppages disrupt the global supply chain and international trade.

“Negotiators need to begin their talks early enough to have an agreement in place well before another contract expires without active or passive threats to the economy and the millions of jobs dependent on our nation’s ports and supply chain. The current process is impractical and unsustainable and fails to meet even the most basic requirements of a modern, global supply chain.

“A new process is needed for labor and management on both coasts. Stakeholders cannot afford to go through this process every couple of years. We need a new system in place that benefits all parties and provides for the efficient transportation of the nation’s cargo and commerce.”

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries.