Schrader, Reichert Lead Letter Uring ILWU, PMA to Resolve Contract Negotiations
WASHINGTON – On Friday, over 80 members of the United States Congress sent a letter, led by Reps. Kurt Schrader (D-OR) and Dave Reichert (R-WA), to the International Longshoreman Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) calling upon them to put aside their differences and quickly resolve the contract negotiation that has bogged down the operations of West Coast ports.
“As the negotiations continue, our farmers, businesses and manufacturers are left with lost sales, increased costs, and concerns about the future,” said Reps. Schrader and Reichert. “They depend on the efficient movement of goods and access to international markets, both of which have been impacted by the negotiations. Trade, both imports and exports, is critical to our communities and our national economy, and the longer these negotiations last the more the results are felt across the country. A federal negotiator has already joined in the negotiations, but we strongly urge both organizations to come to an agreement for the good of the entire nation.”
This is the third letter that Reps. Schrader and Reichert have led urging a swift resolution to the contract negotiations.
The text of the letter is below.
Dear Mr. McEllrath and Mr. McKenna:
On behalf of our constituents, who depend on trade and the efficient flow of commerce, we strongly urge both parties to quickly resolve their differences and put an end to the nine months of negotiations. The impact of the current negotiations on port operations and the movement of goods is felt in all parts of the supply chain and across the entire country. Our constituents are losing business, letting employees go, and worrying about the future. As trade supports over 38 million jobs across the country, we strongly urge your organizations to reach an agreement, because the inability to reach consumers outside our borders impacts jobs here at home.
The efficient flow of goods is critical to our regional and national economy. In fact, last year, according to the Department of Commerce, imports and exports comprised thirty percent of our nation’s gross domestic product (GDP), as our total trade reached five trillion dollars. These numbers highlight the importance of trade to our economy and emphasize how we rely on our infrastructure, and, especially in this case, our seaports.
The millions of jobs supported by this commerce also offer a glimpse at how the economic activity supported and driven by our ports reaches far beyond their borders to our farms, manufacturing facilities, and businesses. Therefore, the inability to ship perishable products in a timely manner and to import manufacturing inputs is devastating to communities across the country. As these negotiations continue, the U.S. agriculture industry suffers as our specialty crop producers are facing lost export sales and increased costs for cold storage, and the U.S. meat and poultry industry estimates losing at least $40 million each week. This will have a long-term impact as well, as our farmers lose market share.
We were pleased to see that your organizations jointly requested the assistance of a federal mediator, and we had hoped this would help facilitate a resolution. However, we are becoming increasingly concerned the negotiations are not progressing and a shutdown is possible, which our trade-dependent communities, and nation cannot withstand. According to recent studies, the ten day West Coast port shutdown that occurred in 2002 cost the economy over $15 billion. A study by the National Retail Federation and National Association of Manufacturers suggests a current day shutdown would be worse – over $21 billion for ten days and impacting 169,000 jobs. Moreover, even if a resolution is reached quickly, our constituents will endure months of attempting to clear the backlog at the ports and some business may never be recovered.
We again urge you to come to a swift resolution for our workers, ports, communities, manufacturers and farmers.