Retailers are urging the International Longshoremen’s Association and employers to reach a labor agreement well in advance of Sept. 30 when their current contract expires, saying a disruption to the flow of goods would be "devastating."
Sandy Kennedy, president of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), said in a letter
to Harold Daggett, head of the ILA, and James Capo, chairman and chief executive officer of the U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX), which represents stevedores and shipping companies, that "potential disruption would be devastating to the retail industry as it would disrupt the flow of goods, resulting in lost sales and aggravated customers."
"Negotiations have been materializing for quite some time, but with the current contract’s deadline only two months away, we urge your leadership in negotiating a master contract that is agreeable to both parties as soon as possible," she said.
In a letter posted on the USMX Website Monday, Capo said "while clearly there are many issues to be resolved, I am confident that both sides recognize the importance of reaching an agreement."
RILA's Kennedy wrote that "in the absence of certainty over the outcome of the negotiations and facing the real possibility of a September stoppage, retailers have no choice but to continue planning for a shutdown. Indeed, some of our members advise that they are beginning to redirect their supply chains in order to allow adequate lead time to ensure that customer needs can continue to be met, regardless of whether the negotiations are successfully concluded by September 30. Supply chain changes of this magnitude are not desirable to retailers because they take time both to implement and to reverse."
Jonathan Gold, vice president, supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation, said his group has also been following the ILA-USMX closely this year and was hopeful that an agreement will be reached in the next round of ILA-USMX negotiations, which are scheduled to resume on July 18.
The National Industrial Transportation League, the nation's largest shipper organization, told its members in its Notice
newsletter this week that while positive signs have emerged in the USMX-ILA talks "informed sources have told the League and other industry observers that much work needs to be completed before a final deal can be accomplished." - Chris Dupin