On Thursday, the National Pork Producers Council joined 114 other agriculture and business organizations in a letter to President Biden urging the White House to intervene in the ongoing West Coast port labor negotiations between dockworkers and port facilities owners. The groups asked the administration to work with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) to “quickly reach a new agreement and ensure there is no disruption to port operations and cargo fluidity.”
Members of the ILWU have been working without a contract for more than eight months, and the talks between the union and the PMA have gone on for more than ten months and have yet to make progress on reaching a labor agreement. The only way to resolve their labor issues, the organizations said in their letter, is for the parties to remain at the bargaining table. “We encourage the administration to provide any and all support to the parties in their negotiations to reach a final agreement.”
Port disruptions, including dockworker strikes and work slowdowns, can jeopardize the delivery of perishable commodities, costing agricultural producers millions of dollars and, potentially, foreign customers.
The 115 ag and business organizations want to avoid port disruptions similar to those in late 2014 into early 2015 at West Coast ports that negatively affected exports. Work slowdowns at the ports from San Diego to Seattle cost the U.S. ag industry millions of dollars in lost export sales.