Retailers urge presidential involvement in west coast port dispute

Federation CEO cites impact of 2002's 10-day lockout, which cost economy $1 billion per day.

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The National Retail Federation today urged President Obama to immediately engage in the stalled contract negotiations between management and striking union workers at the nation’s largest ports. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 Office Clerical Unit has established pickets outside a majority of terminals at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

“A prolonged strike at the nation’s largest ports would have a devastating impact on the U.S. economy,” read a letter from NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay to Obama. “We call upon you to use all means necessary to get the two sides back to the negotiating table.”

In its appeal to the president that the Administration directly engage in the ongoing labor dispute, NRF noted the outcome of the 2002 West Coast ports lockout. The 10-day lockout led to significant supply chain disruptions, which took six months to remedy, and cost the economy an estimated $1 billion a day.

“An extended strike [in Los Angeles and Long Beach] this time could have a greater impact considering the fragile state of the U.S. economy,” the letter stated. “The two sides must remain at the negotiating table until a deal is reached.”

As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF represents retailers of all types and sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. Retailers operate more than 3.6 million U.S. establishments that support one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.5 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF’s Retail Means Jobs campaign emphasizes the economic importance of retail and encourages policymakers to support a Jobs, Innovation and Consumer Value Agenda aimed at boosting economic growth and job creation.

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