The International Longshoremen's Association and East and Gulf Coast port operators have agreed to meet again before their current contract expires on Dec. 29, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service said today, according to Transport Topics.
Following the collapse of contract negotiations last week, the longshoremen’s union said its members would walk off the job at 15 ports on the East and Gulf coasts on Dec. 30, including in Massachusetts, Georgia, Virginia, Florida, New York, Delaware, Florida, Maryland and Texas, Transport Topics reported.
If the work stoppage occurs, it will be the first strike by the ILA in 35 years, the Los Angeles Times reported.
According to the LA Times:
The biggest issue involves so-called container royalty fees on cargo, which supplement dockworker wages.
Cargo companies are pushing to limit these fees and who receives them, while the ILA wants the system to continue as it is currently, the LA Times reported.
"The shipping industry is trying to take back some of the power," said economist John Husing, founder of Economics and Politics Inc., told the LA Times, "but they are up against a union that has abnormal power for its size and one that is in a very strong position."
The National Retail Federation and Florida Gov. Rick Scott have urged Obama to step in to prevent a strike, using the Taft-Hartley Act if necessary, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. (The Taft-Hartley Act allows the president to intervene in a strike if it is declared a national emergency.)
“The threat to national health and safety that would result from mass closure of the ports cannot be overstated,” Scott wrote in a Dec. 20 letter to Obama, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
A strike shut down the Port of Los Angeles and half of the Port of Long Beach for eight days earlier this month, the LA Times reported.
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