The retail sector is applauding a White House move to step into the contentious negotiation for a new contract between dockworkers and West Coast port operators, after talks soured in recent weeks and triggered a series of work stoppages by union laborers.
A statement by trade group the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) noted that Acting Secretary of Labor Julie Su was now involved in the talks between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU).
“Retailers are encouraged to see Acting Labor Secretary Su is now in California directly engaged with negotiating parties at our nation’s West Coast ports. As we approach a year without a labor contract in place, the time is now to get a deal over the finish line and keep this crucial gateway open for business,” RILA said.
“Retailers have successfully navigated myriad supply chain obstacles over the last several years to deliver for consumers, but current disruptions are already leading to ships waiting offshore and unloaded containers piling up. Further strain on supply chains will put extreme pressure on the economy and inflation.”
The port shutdowns come at a delicate time in the logistics calendar, since the summer months are a critical time for retailers to stock up goods in time for the back-to-school and winter holiday peak shipping seasons.
In fact, the stuttering contract talks have already led to measurable delays at the ports, according to recent data from supply chain risk analysis firm Everstream Analytics. Everstream says that the strike actions at the Port of Los Angeles-Long Beach last week had a notable impact on shipping operations, as weekly arrivals of container vessels dropped 45% from the yearly average, and the number of container ships at anchor grew to a daily average of 8, the highest of 2023.