With a new deadline looming three weeks away in a port workers contract dispute, both sides continue to work to avoid what would surely be a costly shutdown.
The contract between the International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance Ltd. was set to expire during the last week of December. Importantly, the two sides agreed to extend to deadline for a new deal to Jan. 28; workers will continue under the previous pact until that point. Falling to get something in place the last time a port-involved contract dispute came up – in early December, also involving the Longshoremen, but in the Los Angeles/Long Beach area of California – resulted in some 75% of the largest U.S. port's capabilities being shut down for just over a week. Because of holiday retail-related shipping needs, some estimates noted that upwards of $1 billion in goods per day were blocked during the dispute.
A failure to forge a new deal by late January would almost certainly lead to a lockout or, more likely a strike. This would affect the following ports: Boston, New York/New Jersey, Delaware River, Baltimore, Hampton Roads, Wilmington, Charleston, Savannah, Jacksonville, Port Everglades, Miami, Tampa, Mobile, New Orleans, and Houston.
National Retail Federation President/CEO Matthew Shay characterized the potential damage from shut a shutdown as “devastating for the U.S. economy.” Shay continues to urge the Obama Administration to get involved in the dispute to thwart any type of shutdown during what is still a tepid growth period at best.
-Brian Shappell, CBA, NACM staff writer