• Washington State To Hold Hearing Over Port Slowdowns

    A Washington state senator says he will be holding a hearing to figure out what is causing the West Coast port slowdowns.

    Michael Baumgartner, a Republican, says he will be looking into the port slowdowns, which have caused economic and retail uncertainty since late October, reported The Houston Chronicle.

    “The port slowdowns have had a terrible impact on small businesses,” Baumgartner tolc the Daily Caller News Foundation, adding he is particularly concerned about the Christmas tree growers, who rely on the holiday season.

    Baumgartner plans to hold the hearing in January during the first week of the new legislative sessions. He will lead the state’s commerce and labor committee.

    The slowdowns are the result of a fierce labor dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), who have been stuck in the middle of negotiations for seven months.

    “Even after seven months of negotiations, we remain far apart on several issues, and the union slowdowns continue to disrupt the movement of cargo through the ports,” PMA said in a statement provided to TheDCNF.

    The statement concluded, “Business is being lost, and we are concerned that the damage is permanent and shippers will be fearful to put their trust in the West Coast ports going forward.”

    The ILWU countered that it is not responsible for the slowdowns.

    Craig Merrilees, the communications director for the ILWU, told TheDCNF, “The port congestion crisis is a long-term problem that pre-dated allegations of a slowdown – and will unfortunately continue after a settlement is reached”

    “Because the key drivers are industry-based changes in operations and business models, including chassis outsourcing, which have paralyzed ports and have made the docks much more dangerous for workers,” Merrilees argued.

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