• Unions Call On Obama To Mediate West Coast Port Battle

    After seven months of continued labor disputes at West Coast ports, a trade group on Tuesday asked President Barack Obama to intervene.

    Ongoing contract negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) have plagued West Coast ports with retail and economic uncertainty since May.

    “The undersigned associations representing United States manufacturers, farmers, wholesalers, retailers, importers, exporters, and transportation and logistics providers are again writing to express our continued concerns with the status of the West Coast port labor negotiations and the impact the ongoing congestion and slowdowns are having on all segments of the economy,” the trade groups wrote in a letter to the president, The Hill reports.

    “We are seeking your help in moving the negotiations to mediation similar to what occurred during the contentious East Coast port labor negotiations in 2012,” the letter continued.

    “The labor contract negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) began on May 15, 2014 and it seems little progress has occurred since the contract expired on July 1, 2014.”

    “While there was optimism with the latest exchange of comprehensive proposals last week,” the letter concluded, “the recent statement by PMA that the parties are not close to an agreement and ‘remain far apart on several issues’ is very concerning.”

    On Monday, officials for the PMA also called upon the Federal government to step in, noting they were concerned they will not resolve lingering issues that stand between them and the union.

    The letter is signed by Port of Seattle CEO Theodore Fick and Port of Tacoma CEO John Wolfe.

    ILWU spokesman Craig Merrilees said, “The ILWU is reviewing various contract proposals and will not be issuing a statement at this time,” in an email provided to Puget Sound Business Journal.

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