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  November 13th, 2014 | Written by

Senators Urge ILWU, PMA to Reach Contract Agreement

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Los Angeles, CA – Pressure is mounting on the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) to successfully conclude their negotiations to craft a labor contract covering major ports on the U.S. West Coast from Seattle to San Diego.

In a letter sent yesterday, the U.S. senators from California, Oregon, and Washington urged leaders from both the PMA and the ILWU “to continue working together toward a fair and amicable settlement on a proposed collective bargaining agreement.”

The letter, which was sent to ILWU President Robert McEllrath and PMA President and CEO James C. McKenna, was signed by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer of California, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, and Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell of Washington.

“This collective bargaining agreement is important for the health, safety and economic well-being of the 13,600 longshore, clerk, and foreman workers at 29 ports from California to Washington, as well as for companies large and small, agriculture producers, ports, and international buyers around the world,” the senators wrote.

“We strongly urge both the PMA and the ILWU to continue negotiating in good faith to resolve the remaining issues and to swiftly move toward a final contract agreeable to both parties.”

Last week, a diverse coalition including retailers, manufacturers and farmers and other supply chain stakeholders led by the National Retail Federation (NRF) addressed a letter to the White House urging the government’s “immediate involvement” in the contract negotiations.

The coalition called on the Obama Administration “to become engaged in the contract negotiations before a disruption can occur,” and recommended the use of a federal mediator to forestall any threat of a management-directed lockout or labor-initiated strike.

“We believe immediate action is necessary and the federal government’s use of all of its available options would be helpful in heading off a shutdown and keeping the parties at the negotiating table,” the coalition letter said.

The NRF and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) issued an economic analysis in June that found a port shutdown would cost the U.S. economy approximately $2 billion a day.

The NRF-NAM analysis estimated that a 5-day stoppage at ports on the U.S. West Coast would reduce U.S. GDP by $1.9 billion a day. This would increase exponentially with a 20-day stoppage resulting in a loss of $2.5 billion a day.