WASHINGTON-The National Retail Federation has sent a letter to President Obama urging him to take action in the negotiations between the International Longshoreman’s Association and the United States Maritime Alliance over a new union contract for the association.
The two sides have been bargaining over a contract for the past few months “with little demonstrable progress,” according to an NRF statement. The contract deadline currently stands at Dec. 29. “If the sides fail to extend the negotiations or reach an agreement, a port strike impacting 15 container ports along the East and Gulf Coasts is highly probable,” the statement said.
A strike would potentially disrupt and delay the delivery of spring and summer retail merchandise, which “could prove devastating for the U.S. economy,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in the letter to the president. “We call upon you to use all means necessary … to keep the two sides at the negotiating table and head off a coast-wide strike.”
NRF said the president could use the Taft-Hartley Act to end any job action and force the two sides to get back to the bargaining table. The last time Taft-Hartley was used was in 2002 by then-President George W. Bush during the West Coast ports lockout—which, according to estimates by economists, cost the U.S. economy $1 billion a day and took more than six months for the supply chain to recover, according to NRF.