The Retail Industry Leaders Association urged the International Longshoremen’s Association and the its management counterpart to resume negotiations in order to reach agreement before the current East and Gulf Coast labor contract expires Sept. 30.
“As negotiations falter, retailers are urging both sides to get back to the negotiating table and avert what would be a disastrous strike this fall. A disruption of this magnitude would be devastating to the retail industry and would have severe consequences for the U.S. economy,” RILA President Sandy Kennedy said.
The ILA and United States Maritime Alliance broke off negotiations Aug. 22 amid disagreements over employers’ efforts to negotiate changes to work rules and practices, primarily in the Port of New York and New Jersey.
In a letter to the ILA and USMX, RILA said a strike would disrupt commerce during the peak shipping season for holiday imports. Many shippers already have implemented contingency plans by shipping early or diverting cargo to other coasts.
“We understand the negotiations themselves have many complicated components that need to be addressed, but we’re also aware of the potential short- and long-term consequences that will occur if cargo is diverted from the East and Gulf Coast ports,” Kennedy said. “The negative impact a strike would have on retailers and our overall economy cannot be overstated.”
The National Retail Federation has also urged the ILA and USMX to resume negotiations.