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Multi Industry ILWU-PMA Negotiations Mediation Letter

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January 16, 2015


Dear Mr. McEllrath and Mr. McKenna:


On behalf of the undersigned organizations representing manufacturers, farmers and agribusinesses, wholesalers, retailers, importers, exporters, distributors, and transportation and logistics providers, we appreciate both parties resuming negotiations this month with the assistance of Scot Beckenbaugh, Deputy Director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.

We fully respect the process of collective bargaining and we understand the importance of the key issues that both management and labor are trying to resolve.  We believe that the two parties must come to a resolution of the issues that is satisfactory for all concerned.  We have been disappointed, however, by the exchanges that have occurred in the media and accusations by both sides of improper tactics.  As customers of your ports, and industries affected by their operations, our members desperately need this negotiation to be concluded and operations returned to normal levels of through-put.

Over the summer months, both sides verbally agreed to work during the negotiations without interruptions.  That promise was broken and the consequences have been to the detriment of our collective industries, the economy and our global competitiveness.  The stakes are extremely high and the uncertainty at the West Coast ports in causing great reputational and economic harm to our nation.  Policymakers in Washington, DC cannot solve the myriad of issues surrounding these talks, but the competitive marketplace will respond if you continue on this current path. 

Sales of American exports remain clouded in uncertainty across Asia and our overseas competitors eagerly highlight the problems at West Coast ports as a reason not to purchase American made or grown products.  Manufacturers in the Midwest have had to slow and even stop production lines due to delays in receiving containers from the West Coast that hold critical inputs.  Retailers are not seeing delays of early spring merchandise including products for Valentine's Day and Easter.  Supply chains across all of our industry sectors have already been adversely impacted due to events far beyond our control over the past several months.  It is a black eye for the broader economy and some jobs have and will continue to be lost as a result of continued delays at the ports. 

Please consider allaying the growing concerns of the many thousands of businesses and millions of jobs which rely on West Coast ports for orderly and timely supply chain operations by working together to conclude the ongoing contract negotiations so we can then address the congestion issues at key West Coast ports.  With the help of the Deputy Director Beckenbaugh, we ask for a renewed commitment to stay the course, complete the contract negotiations as soon as possible and work to resolve the current congestion issues without further interrupting the flow of commerce.

Sincerely,

Agricultural Retailer Association

Agriculture Transportation Coalition

Agri0Business Council of Oregon

Airforwarders Association

Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers

AMCOT

American Apparel & Footwear Association

American Association of Exporters and Importers

American Association of Port Authorities

American Cotton Shippers Association

American Farm Bureau Federation

American Forest and Paper Association

American Frozen Food Institute

American Home Furnishing Alliance

American Import Shippers Association

American Pistachio Growers

American Potato Trade Alliance

American Pyrotechnics Association

American Soybean Association

American Trucking Association

Association of American Railroads

Association of California Recycling Industries

...

Wine Institute

Wisconsin Soybean Growers Association

Women in International Trade, Los Angeles

cc: Acting Director Allison Beck, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Deputy

     Director Scot Beckenbaugh, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service