The International Longshoremen’s Association and United States Maritime Alliance continue negotiations on a contract that can’t be settled soon enough for importers and exporters.
The National Retail Federation this week urged the ILA and USMX to continue negotiations and to pledge to avoid any work disruptions at East and Gulf Coast ports when the current contract expires Sept. 30.
The Retail Industry Leaders Association also has urged the union and its management to work for a strike-free agreement.
Many shippers, including large retailers belonging to the NRF and RILA, have said they plan to accelerate shipments for the holiday peak season and start diverting some cargo to the West Coast if the negotiations don’t make headway.
After the last round of talks ended June 28, ILA President Harold Daggett reported “considerable progress” and said he hoped a tentative agreement could be reached in this week’s talks at Delray Beach, Fla.
Top ILA demands involve automation, chassis maintenance and repair, work jurisdiction and weighing of import containers at marine terminals. Management is seeking productivity improvements that USMX says are necessary for East and Gulf Coast ports to compete for cargo.
This week’s negotiating sessions are expected to continue at least through Friday.