U.S. retailers appealed to PresidentBarack Obama to intervene in contract negotiations between West Coast dockworkers and maritime companies after a work slowdown spread to the nation’s largest container hub ahead of theholiday shopping season.
The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, asked Obama to step in and ensure that tensions between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association, representing terminal operators and shipping lines, don’t “escalate to a complete shutdown of West Coast ports.”
Goods destined for holiday shoppers are being unloaded at 29 ports from San Diego to Bellingham, Washington, by workers who have been without a contract since July 1. The maritime association said a slowdown that began in Seattle and Tacoma spread to Los Angeles and Long Beach, the busiest port complex in the U.S. Those ports already face congestion from equipment shortages and rail delays.
“This is adding to the already substantial list of issues contributing to congestion,” Bruce Chan, associate transportation and logistics analyst at Stifel, Nicolaus & Co., said yesterday by telephone from Baltimore. “We’re OK as far as items on the shelves are concerned. What we’ll probably see is some cost pressure for shippers and retailers potentially filtering down to consumers.”
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