The National Retail Federation (NRF) is calling
on the union representing dockworkers at U.S. East and Gulf coast ports and their employers to commit themselves to having a contract ratified well before their current contract expires on Sept. 30, but asked they commit themselves to continuing talks and normal port operations even if they do not reach agreement by that date.
"Any kind of disruption at the ports would not only add costly delays to our members’ supply chains and other industries relying on East and Gulf coast maritime facilities, but potentially further threaten the fragile economic recovery as we enter the peak (holiday) shipping season,” NRF President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Shay said in a letter to Harold Daggett, president of the International Longshoremen’s Association, and James Capo, CEO of U.S. Maritime Alliance, which represents the dockworkers' employers.
The two sides are slated to resume negotiations this week, from July 18-21, on a new contract.
Shay noted "the July 18th round of negotiations comes at a critical time as
retailers are in the process of making final decisions on whether to
divert cargo from the East and Gulf coast ports in order to avoid
"It is important to note that even the perceived risk of a disruption has already forced retailers and other shippers to reevaluate their use of East and Gulf coast ports. Cargo shifts to other ports may likely happen even if a disruption never occurs simply due to the escalation of risk," he added.
"We ask that you continue the negotiations without delay, and without impacting commerce moving through the ports,” Shay said. “We would further ask that you issue a statement committing to continue negotiating and working without interruption, even if negotiations extend beyond the September 30th contract expiration.”
"Differences should be worked out at the negotiating table, not the picket line," said NRF in a statement.
The letter from the world’s largest retail trade association follows a similar letter last week urging a settlement from the Retail Industry Leaders Association
. - Chris Dupin