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Trade Groups Ask Port Negotiators to Start Labor Talks

Aug 10, 2016

In an effort to avoid a repeat of the ten-month contract dispute between West Coast dockworkers and port operators that caused big backups at ports during 2014 and early 2015, more than 125 trade organizations urged both sides to begin early discussions on a contract extension or a new contract. The letter to the leaders of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association said early agreement would provide needed stability and predictability for global competitiveness.

“You have both recognized the negative economic impact of disruptions and slowdowns that occurred during the last negotiations,” the letter said. “We believe a new model for future negotiations needs to be developed, one which stresses early and continuous dialogue. This should include a pledge by both parties to ensure there are no disruptions to cargo movement during negotiations.”

IDFA signed the letter along with 127 other organizations that represent manufacturers, farmers, wholesalers, retailers, importers and exporters, and transportation and logistics providers. 

The previous protracted labor negotiations caused West Coast ports to operate at less than 50 percent of normal volume. Agriculture industry members, including dairy businesses, experienced delays of two to three weeks on chilled products because of backups at the ports, including Long Beach and Los Angeles, two of the busiest in the country. Even after the leaders reached a tentative agreement in February 2015, the congestion caused by the slowdown took a considerable amount of time to clear.

For more information, contact Clay Hough, IDFA senior group vice president and general counsel, at, or Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at

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