(WASHINGTON)—The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) has joined a coalition of 107 organizations calling for President Obama to take action to prevent a strike at ports spanning the coast from Houston to Boston.
The coalition includes groups whose member firms rely on free and steady movement of goods through U.S. ports. Talks between the longshoremen’s union and an alliance of shippers broke down December 18th and reports indicate strike preparations are underway for Gulf and East Coast ports. Absent action by December 29, the date when the current labor agreement expires, a strike is expected impacting port and related activity in as many as 18 states.
“We applaud the parties for agreeing to use a federal mediator over the last several months. However, even with the mediator there has been very little progress. Failure to reach an agreement resulting in a coast wide shutdown will have serious economy-wide impacts,” the coalition wrote in its December 20 letter to the President.
The coalition noted that especially in the Northeast, residents and businesses still face a long recovery from the effects of superstorm Sandy. They pointed out that a port strike or shutdown will only add to the economic devastation already felt in the region, and also said that even the threat of a strike has created serious economic uncertainty. The coalition letter reported that the West Coast port lockout a decade ago cost the U.S. economy $1 billion per day and required six months for businesses and ports to fully recover.
“American jobs depend on the predictable and well-managed flow of goods through U.S. ports to businesses and consumers. WSWA members and our coalition partners believe that both parties can reach agreement over these issues—and that President Obama and his Administration should take all appropriate action to ensure the movement of goods without disruption to our economy and impact on jobs,” WSWA President and CEO Craig Wolf said.
“We need to ensure that a shutdown does not occur which would impact hundreds of thousands of downstream customers and businesses who rely on the ports for their success,” the letter said. A copy is available here.
WSWA is a national trade association representing the wholesale tier of the wine and spirits industry. With more than 350 member companies across all 50 states and the District of Columbia, WSWA is the voice for wholesalers in Congress, the administration, the courts, with the news media and in communities across America.