The Port of Philadelphia may be crippled through no fault of International Longshoremen’s Association, Local 1291, if the ILA and United States Maritime Alliance, Ltd., do not settle their differences by Dec. 30.
If the Port of Philadelphia shuts down (the last East and Gulf Coast port strike was 1977), it would negatively impact every importer and exporter that utilizes the container port, from manufacturers and truck drivers to farmers and retailers, affect hundreds if not thousands of US jobs, and cost the US economy millions upon millions of dollars a day. A similar 2002 West Coast port disruption was estimated to cost the US economy around $1 billion a day, and that strike lasted 10 days.
“It doesn’t look promising … with both sides pulling out of the talks yesterday,” said Stephen E. Schatz, Sr., spokesperson for the National Retail Federation.
The National Retail Federation issued the following statement from its VP for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold on the breakdown of contract negotiations between the International Longshoremen’s Association and the United States Maritime Alliance, Ltd.:
“It is extremely disheartening to learn that the two sides failed to reach an agreement during today’s negotiations. NRF urges both sides to remain at the table until a deal is reached.
“It is imperative that both sides verbally announce their intentions to return to the negotiations. A coastwide port shutdown would have a significant impact across all businesses and industries that rely on the ports, particularly retail.
“The last thing the economy needs right now is another strike, which would impact all international trade and commerce at the nation’s East and Gulf Coast container ports. This is truly a ‘container cliff’ in the making.
“The retail industry, once again, calls on President Barack Obama to engage directly in the negotiations. The President should utilize all available tools, including Taft-Hartley, to eliminate even the threat of a strike or lockout. The time for leadership is now.”