Los Angeles, CA – The American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) has joined the chorus of national organizations with a letter to the White House urging to appoint a federal mediator to administer the ongoing contract negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).
“America’s seaports are absolutely vital to our economy, jobs and international competitiveness,” said Kurt Nagle, AAPA president and CEO. “At this tender stage of the economic recovery, our nation simply cannot afford disruptions, let alone a shutdown, of any part of the ports system.”
Contract negotiations between the ILWU and the PMA have dragged on since the end of May with work slowdowns at the 29 U.S. West Coast ports affected by the talks significantly cutting into cargo volumes. Particularly impacted are the major ‘load center’ ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma.
After seven months of labor negotiations without an agreement being reached, he said, “we believe that federal mediation is now necessary to prevent the significant economic repercussions that can occur whenever there is uncertainty and unpredictability in the movement of international commerce through our ports.”
According to the port group, international trade accounts for nearly one-third of the U.S. economy with the country’s seaports handling more than 99 percent of the nation’s overseas imports and exports, amounting to more than 2 billion tons of goods annually.
“This mammoth flow of trade supports more than 13 million American jobs and generates over $200 billion a year in tax revenues. Disruptions to this trade flow hurt American businesses and farmers, cost American consumers and impede America’s ability to compete in international markets,” wrote Nagle.
Over the last several weeks, a coalition of businesses and trade organizations, led by the National Association of Manufacturers and the National Retail Federation, have communicated with the White House urging the President to take action, while Congressional delegations from California, Oregon and Washington have also communicated with the White House calling for executive action.
In mid-November, the White House issued a statement from the President saying that he was “confident” the negotiations would come to a successful conclusion.