Retailers Applaud Introduction of Port Legislation

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

June 5, 2015

Senate bill aims to mitigate impact of labor disputes at America’s ports.

In a letter sent today, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) welcomed the introduction of the Protecting Orderly and Responsible Transit of Shipments (PORTS) Act in the U.S Senate. The bill, sponsored by Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), would amend the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to provide state governors a mechanism under federal law to mitigate the destructive impact of port labor disputes on the economy at both the state and federal level.

Specifically, the legislation would authorize a governor from a state where a port labor dispute is causing economic harm to form a board of inquiry and start the Taft Hartley process. Once the board reports, governors can petition federal courts to enjoin slowdowns, strikes, or lockouts at ports in their states.  

We applaud [Senator Gardner’s] efforts to address the ever-growing threat that port disruptions present to our national supply chain, which can be detrimental to the overall state of the U.S. economy,” said Kelly Kolb, vice president, government affairs.

Retailers have faced substantial slowdowns and even total work stoppages at U.S. ports over the past two decades. Most recently, a contract dispute at West Coast ports caused substantial cargo delays, stranding vessels and cargo offshore, causing supply chain workers to sit idle, which cost retailers sales and harmed the economy.

“The most recent West Coast port labor contract negotiations perfectly illustrates the profound ramifications felt by retailers during a major port disruption,” added Kolb. “In coming years, freight volumes are expected to double. Stability and efficiency within our nation’s ports and overall supply chain will be more critical than ever. The impact of the recent excruciating slowdown on the West Coast was challenging to overcome, but the impact of potential slowdowns or shutdowns and the resulting backups, delays, higher costs and lost productivity in the future could be even more devastating. These issues negatively impact employment throughout the supply chain, and put us in a weaker position with many of our trading partners around the globe. Well performing infrastructure and an efficient supply chain is vital to economic growth in the decades ahead. Now is the time to address the challenges that could disrupt that growth, and prepare ourselves for a future that gives American workers the opportunity to reap the benefits of an expanding global economy.”


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