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7/17/2012 3:00:00 PM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Retail Groups Urge Ports, Labor to Reach Agreement


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The National Retail Federation called on both sides involved in labor talks at ports on the East Coast and Gulf Coast to reach an agreement without a work stoppage, which would force diversions and delays of cargo.

Talks are scheduled to take place in Florida Wednesday through Saturday between the United States Maritime Alliance, which negotiates for port terminal operators and ocean carriers, and the International Longshoremen’s Association. The current contract expires Sept. 30.

“The negotiations come at a critical time as retailers are in the process of making final decisions on whether to divert cargo from the East and Gulf Coast ports in order to avoid potential disruptions,” Matthew Shay, president of the NRF, wrote in a letter dated Monday.

The federation represents companies that generate $2.7 trillion in annual sales. The Retail Industry Leaders Association sent a similar letter.

The USMA and the ILA, representing dockworkers from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Houston, began talks in March after ILA President Harold Daggett unveiled a list of key issues, including terminal automation, job preservation and chassis.

Union members currently maintain chassis used by intermodal truckers but previously supplied solely by ocean carriers.

Neither management negotiators nor the union responded to requests for comment, but the union’s website included a statement from Daggett, who said that “substantial progress” had been made on several issues,

By Rip Watson
Senior Reporter

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