Retailers voice concerns about seaport labor issues

A work stoppage could potentially further threaten the fragile economic recovery as the peak shipping season approaches

By ·

The National Retail Federation is calling on labor and management officials at the East and Gulf Coast ports to continue contract negotiations in order to avoid any potential supply chain disruption, delay or stoppage, which could stifle global commerce and jeopardize the fragile U.S. economic recovery.

“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 CEO Matthew Shay said in a letter.

David Jacoby, President of Boston Strategies International is among the industry analysts who are anticipating a weak peak season in any case.

“U.S. growth has been coming in slower increments, and the annual increase in trade is going to be smaller than last year as the U.S. economy experiences uncertainty leading up to the presidential election in November,” he said. That means that the second half of the year is likely to be sluggish.”

For the NRF, that means even greater vigilance is needed.

“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.”

Shay’s remarks came in a letter to the International Longshoremen’s Association, which represents the dock workers, and United States Maritime Alliance, Ltd., which represents the terminal operators. The two sides have held contract negotiations over the past few months with another round scheduled for July 18-21.


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

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