Port Labor and Management to Resume Talks
By J. Craig Shearman
Washington Retail Insight
September 6, 2012
Federal mediators said today that labor and management from East Coast and Gulf Coast ports have agreed to return to the bargaining table, a move that could avoid a possible October strike that would disrupt retail supply chains during merchants’ busiest time of the year.
“The parties have agreed to resume negotiations under our auspices,” Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Director George H. Cohen said.
Talks between the International Longshoremen’s Association and the United States Maritime Alliance will take place the week of September 17, but “due to the sensitivity of this high-profile dispute,” neither the location of the meeting nor the content of the talks will be disclosed, Cohen said.
NRF, which last week sent ILA President Harold Daggett and USMA Chairman and CEO James Capo a letter last urging that talks be resumed, welcomed the announcement.
“We continue to strongly encourage both sides to remain at the table until a new deal is agreed upon, even if it goes beyond the end of the current contract,” NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “It is critical that negotiations continue without disruptions to the supply chain that could impact the critical holiday shopping season and the overall U.S. economy.”
The current contract expires September 30, and the ILA’s New York-New Jersey local last week voted to authorize a strike if the dispute is not settled by then. Negotiations broke off two weeks ago in a dispute over what issues were to be discussed.
NRF warned last week that merchants would be forced to divert shipments to the West Coast or find other alternatives if a settlement could not be reached quickly. Many retail companies have already begun putting contingency plans into operation.
© 2012 National Retail Federation
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