FarmPolicy

July 24, 2019

West Coast Ports- Los Angeles Times- Thursday; Lawmakers Weigh In

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Times continued its detailed coverage of the West Coast port dispute (See articles from Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday).

On the front page of the Business section, Andrew Khouri and Tiffany Hsu reported that, “The labor dispute that has stalled dozens of massive ships off the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach isn’t limited to the nation’s busiest cargo complex.

“The high-volume harbors at Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma, Wash., also have battled severe bottlenecks for months as the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and employer group Pacific Maritime Assn. have wrangled over a new contract for 20,000 dockworkers at ports from San Diego to Bellingham, Wash.

“U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas Perez met with both sides Wednesday, the second straight day of direct White House involvement to break the stalemate.”

The article noted that, “For exporters such as Sage Fruit in Yakima, Wash., the delays have caused pain.

Packages of apples, cherries and nectarines have arrived in Asia as much as eight weeks late, said sales manager John Onstad.

“‘They certainly weren’t in the condition the customers were expecting,’ he said.

“As the latest holiday weekend shutdown loomed, ‘we had a lot of customers who simply said, ‘We don’t even want to purchase your product,” Onstad said.

And the Los Angeles Times editorial board opined on Thursday that, “Let’s hope Perez can talk some sense into the two sides, which together are holding American businesses and the Southern California economy hostageā€¦[T]o protect their competitive advantage, L.A. and Long Beach must scale up to accommodate larger ships that carry twice as many containers as the ports are used to handling.

“The important work of preparing for a changing industry is stalled while the shipping companies and dockworkers are locked in a dispute. It’s time to make a deal.”

Meanwhile, a news release on Thursday from Sen. John Thune (R., S.D.) indicated that, “Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Chairman [Thune], Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security Chairman Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Shuster (R-Penn.), Transportation Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), House Education and Workforce Committee Chairman John Kline (R-Minn.), and Education and Workforce Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions Chairman Phil Roe, M.D. (R-Tenn.) have sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging action on the unnecessary gridlock of goods at 29 West Coast shipping ports.”

A separate news release Thursday from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) stated that, “U.S. Senators [Feinstein] and Barbara Boxer (both D-Calif.) today called on both parties in the West Coast ports dispute to act swiftly to reach a final agreement. In a letter to International Longshore and Warehouse President Robert McEllrath and Pacific Maritime Association President and CEO James C. McKenna, the Senators expressed their concern that despite a narrowing of differences, the parties have not been able to resolve the labor dispute because they cannot agree on the selection of an arbitrator.”

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