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Retailers Call on Union and Ports for Long-Term Stability

[ February 8, 2016   //   ]

The one-day strike at the Port Authority of New York New Jersey (PANYNJ) may have been short lived. Nevertheless, the National Retail Federation called on the International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance to seek long-term stability at East Coast and Gulf Coast ports following the January 29 walk off.
“The threat of potential or ongoing labor disruptions will force retailers and other stakeholders to reevaluate supply chain options for their cargo,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Events like last week’s strike can do a great deal of damage to the image of East Coast ports as reliable business partners for the shippers represented by NRF.”
Thousands of longshoremen walked off the job at PANYNJ, thereby literally freezing every port complex on an already frigid day. The reason: disputes with the Waterfront Commission over technology advancements and outsourcing. The strike was a surprise and resulted in serious backups of cargo and severe truck congestion.
“Long-term stability at the East Coast and Gulf Coast ports is essential,” Shay said. “We believe early negotiations on the existing contract should be the path forward and hope that solutions to the tough issues – including those not currently in the contract – will be worked out at the bargaining table and not with short-term illegal strikes.”
“Such disruptions send a very troublesome message to the port’s customers – the cargo owners,” Shay said. “While there may be outstanding non-contract issues, electing to walk off the job in protest even for a short period of time only adds to ongoing congestion issues facing the port and its customers.”
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy.

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