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Supply Chain

Can a coast-wide port strike be averted?

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As the nation’s shipping community, from auto manufacturers and farmers to retailers and truckers, prepares for the highly anticipated supply chain disruption this coming Sunday, December 29, there is an 11th hour move – orchestrated by Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service – designed to bring the union and management together one last time to avert the pending ‘container cliff.’

Late Monday, FMCS Director George Cohen announced that the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), who represents the dockworkers, and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX), who represents the terminal operators, agreed to meet before the contract extension expires on December 29. Keeping with FMCS protocol, the meeting’s details are confidential.

This last ditch effort by the FMCS is truly the supply chain’s last best hope to prevent an East and Gulf Coast port strike at the nation’s 14 container ports.

Ports – stretching from Maine to Texas – from New York and New Jersey and Hampton Roads (Norfolk) to Savannah and Houston will immediately cease container operations (no loading or unloading of cargo) if a new contract is not reached or extended.

NRF is grateful that the FMCS is organizing this 11th hour negotiation and optimistic that the ILA and USMX will see the light and remain at the negotiation table until a deal is reached.

In fact, NRF Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold went on Fox Business last evening to discuss the looming port strike, its impact on the supply chain and what the nation’s retailers need most from this last ditch effort. Watch the segment below.