if the International Longshore and Warehouse Union doesn’t get a new contract worked out by July 1.
Imports through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach jumped in April amid concern about labor unrest. Three years ago, longshore workers at both ports slowed down operations when the ILWU didn’t reach an agreement with the Pacific Maritime Assn. in time. The two sides have been meeting for four weeks to hammer out terms of the new three-year agreement. The ILWU represents about 10,000 workers.
The National Retail Federation last week called on labor and management at West Coast ports to avoid a strike or work slowdown and lockout that would disrupt commerce nationwide.
"Retailers heavily depend on the West Coast ports in shipping a wide variety of consumer goods, particularly from Asia," NRF President and CEO Tracy Mullin said. "Any disruption at the West Coast ports would have serious ramifications, not only to the U.S. retail industry and millions of American consumers, but also the entire U.S. economy. With the retail industry and consumer spending largely propping up a fragile economy, this is a potential scenario that our country can ill afford."
Resolution of the labor dispute is also important in order to ensure the safety and security of the ports in the wake of last year's terrorist attacks, she said.
Mullin's comments came in letters to International Longshore and Warehouse Union President James Spinosa and Pacific Maritime Association President and CEO Joseph N. Miniace.