When the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) convenes a caucus in San Francisco next week, contract negotiations with the Pacific Maritime Association may finally draw to a close. According to labor/management analysts, a tentative agreement could be worked out by the 100 caucus members, and then presented to the union for approval.
Meanwhile, Washington farmers and local business leaders concerned about the impact of the port slowdown met in Seattle last week to call on both factions to get back to work shipping their products. At a press conference hosted by the Agriculture Transportation Coalition (AgTC), farmers and local business owners traveled from Eastern Washington to share first-hand accounts of how the port slowdown has left produce rotting and crippled their ability to fulfill contracts. They also told stories of having to lay-off employees while reducing the hours of others right as the holiday season approaches.
“Our 100 plus hourly workers are seeing up to a 40-percent reduction in hours from earlier this year,” said Blaine Calaway, Vice President of Sales, China, for Calaway Trading. “Calculating overtime, that means it could be upwards of a $150 loss a week per person. These individuals are worried about how to keep food on the table and buy Christmas presents. Our local retailers feel the hit as well. It’s just a tremendous loss for folks in our community.”
“Millions of dollars are lost each day while negotiations drag on,” said Peter Friedmann, Executive Director of the AgTC. “The Pacific Northwest economy and the future of our local farmers have suffered permanent, and in many cases, irreversible damage.”
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