The National Retail Federation urged the International Longshoremen’s Association and its management counterpart to pledge to continue contract negotiations and avoid a work stoppage that “could seriously harm the U.S. economy.”
NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay wrote an open letter to ILA President Harold Daggett and James Capo, chairman and CEO of United States Maritime Alliance, as the ILA and USMX prepare to resume contract negotiations Wednesday in Delray Beach, Fla.
Daggett said after the last round of negotiations in June produced “significant progress,” that he hoped this week’s talks would yield tentative agreement on a contract covering 14,500 ILA dockworkers at East and Gulf Coast ports.
Retailers are growing nervous as they approach the summer-fall peak season for holiday imports. If this week’s talks don’t show progress, many plan to accelerate shipments or begin to divert some cargo to West Coast ports.
Shay asked the ILA and USMX to seek an agreement and promise to keep the ports open even if no deal is reached before the current agreement expires.
“We ask that you continue the negotiations without delay, and without impacting commerce moving through the ports. We would further ask that you issue a statement committing to continue negotiating and working without interruption, even if negotiations extend beyond the Sept. 30 contract expiration,” Shay’s letter said.
Last week, the Retail Industry Leaders Association posted a letter urging the ILA and USMX to reach an agreement that would avoid supply chain disruptions.
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