Progress Made in USMX and ILA Contract Negotiations

Earlier today, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) Director George H. Cohen issued the following statement today on the labor negotiations between the United States Maritime Alliance and the International Longshoremen’s Association:

“The United States Maritime Alliance and the International Longshoremen’s Association conducted negotiations during the three day period January 15-17, 2013. In these negotiations the parties made progress and have agreed that the negotiations will continue under our auspices.”

“Due to the sensitivity of these negotiations, we will have no further comment at this time.”

Source: AP/Steven Senne Last Friday, January 10th, the National Industrial Transportation League, representing a host of U.S. manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers, importers, exporters and transportation and logistics providers, sent a letter to Harold Daggett, president of the ILA, and James Capo, chairman and CEO of the USMX, saying that the groups “applauded” the ILA and USMX “for coming to an agreement without engaging in a supply-chain disruption.” However, they urged both parties “to continue their focused efforts to reach a new long-term contract in advance of the Feb. expiration.”

Similarly, the National Retail Federation expressed equal concern:

“The strike deadline came and went at the end of December, but the threat of closing down nearly half our nation’s port capacity has only been postponed, not eliminated,” National Retail Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold said. “The uncertainty of what will happen in February has retailers implementing expensive contingency plans yet again and is a burden our economy cannot afford.”

The latest statement from the FMCS is positive news as their presence has already proved valuable in brokering extensions and ultimately reaching agreements in port labor negotiations in the US. The latest extension of contract talks between the ILA and USMX runs through February 6th and comes after previous strike deadlines in September and October. A strike would close 14 ports from Maine to Texas where nearly 15,000 dockworkers handle 40 percent of the nation’s ocean cargo.

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Source: American Shipper News,