Date: Monday, March 27, 2023
A group of more than two hundred importers, exporters, logistics providers, and retailers urged the White House to intervene in West Coast port labor talks that have been underway since last May.
In a letter Friday to President Joe Biden, groups including the National Retail Federation, the American Trucking Associations, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, urged the administration to help speed the agreement on a new labor contract between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association, after the contract governing dockworkers from California to Washington State expired on July 1.
“While we appreciate that the parties agreed not to engage in a strike or a lockout, we are aware of several instances of activities that have impacted terminal operations. We need the administration to ensure these activities do not continue or escalate,” the March 24 letter said.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Friday night.
The request came as cargo volumes have dropped off at West Coast ports since the pandemic’s record highs, in part because retailers and importers have sought to avoid potential disruption and delays because of the labor negotiations.
While work has continued largely without incident at the ports despite a lack of contract, tensions rose this week when the PMA alleged that members of the ILWU’s local chapter failed to stagger lunch breaks, causing delays at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
“That cargo will not return to the West Coast until after a contract is final and approved by both parties. The longer there is no ratified contract only increases the probability that some portion of the freight will never return to the West Coast ports,” the letter said.
The group asked the White House to appoint a new point person on the talks now that Labor Secretary Marty Walsh has left his post, and to offer mediation services to the ILWU and PMA given the lack of progress to date.