The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) issued the following statement in response to news that the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) have agreed to enter mediation. Late Monday, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service announced that port operators and labor representatives jointly requested mediation.
Over the past several months tensions between negotiators have grown and the flow of goods through the ports has slowed considerably. According to the Journal of Commerce, in November, just 46 percent of vessels arrived on time at America's two largest ports, Los Angeles and Long Beach, down from around 90 percent in July. The ILWU and PMA are negotiating a new contract to replace one that expired on July 1.
"Retailers welcome the news that negotiators have embraced mediation and we urge all sides to work hastily to reach an agreement that prevents a shutdown and restores the free flow of cargo through West Coast ports," said RILA President Sandy Kennedy. "The current slowdown has stranded cargo offshore, which harms consumers unable to find the products they seek, retailers that lose sales and ultimately the economy at-large."
RILA is the trade association of the world's largest and most innovative retail companies. RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers domestically and abroad.