The contentious labor talks between the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), the largest union of maritime workers in North America, and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX), an alliance of container carriers, direct employers, and port associations serving United States-based East and Gulf Coasts, are back on.
Earlier today, United States Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) Director George H. Cohen said that upon the FMCS’s request ILA and USMX “have agreed to resume negotiations under our auspices during the week of September 17, 2012,” adding that “due to the sensitivity of the high profile dispute and consistent with the agency’s longstanding practice, we will not disclose either the location of the meeting or the content of the substantive negotiations that will take place.”
Given the contentious nature of talks in recent weeks, that is clearly a step in the right direction. And if these talks lead to a positive outcome, that’s even better.
This development was welcome news to the National Retail Federation (NRF).
“We are pleased that the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and US Maritime Alliance, Ltd. (USMX) have agreed to return to the bargaining table to continue their negotiations,” said NRF Vice President, Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold in a statement. It is critical that negotiations continue without disruptions to the supply chain that could impact the critical holiday shipping season and the overall U.S. economy.”
These negotiations have been uneven to say the least. Just yesterday we reported that talks were going nowhere fast. It is nice to see that may be changing. There are many things that the ILA and USMX differ on so maybe they are agreeing to disagree still but with a third-party mediator—FMCS—on board, perhaps we will see some progress here.