Industry Groups Encourage Federal Engagement on Port Labor Negotiations

Brian GermanAgri-Business, Trade

A coalition of organizations representing a variety of industries including agriculture are encouraging the Biden Administration to get involved in the port labor negotiations. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) began contract discussions back in May. On the day the last contract expired, more than 150 industry groups sent a letter addressed to President Joe Biden asking for engagement on the issue.

Port Labor

“We urge the administration to continue to work with the parties to reach a new agreement without any disruption to port operations,” the letter reads. “We know the administration understands the economic significance of these negotiations. As such, we encourage the administration to provide any and all support to the parties to reach a final conclusion of their negotiations.”

The ILWU represents approximately 22,000 West Coast dockworkers and the PMA is representing more than 70 employers. At issue is the contract pertaining to port workers across 29 ports in California, Oregon, and Washington. In the letter, the coalition is asking that the Biden Administration ensure that both parties remain committed to negotiating in good faith. There is concern that setbacks in the negotiating process could create further complications within the already disrupted supply chain.

“This is even more important as we continue to experience supply chain disruptions and congestion for a variety of reasons,” the coalition stated. “Even with the recent joint statement, supply chain stakeholders remain concerned about the potential for disruption, especially without a contract or an extension in place. Unfortunately, this concern stems from a long history of disruptions during previous negotiations.”

Signatories of the letter include the California Farm Bureau Federation, Western Agricultural Processors Association, and California Rice Commission. Concern about the port labor contract expiring at the end of June began to rise as supply chain challenges continued to mount. However, both the ILWU and PMA have indicated that cargo will continue to move without interruption as contract negotiations continue.

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Brian German

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Ag News Director, AgNet West