Report: Port strike would threaten spring retail sales

New York City -- A Wednesday report by MarketWatch said that a potential strike by nearly 15,000 dock workers at 14 ports from Boston to Houston beginning on Sunday may derail retailers’ spring selling as well.

National Retail Federation supply chain and custom policy issues head Jonathan Gold told MarketWatch that, even though a federal mediator has called for a meeting of the International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance ahead of the Dec. 29 contract expiration, it’s not clear when and where the two parties would do that in the next few days.

According to Gold, the two parties are in disagreement over container royalties, or the supplemental payments made to the workers based on the weight of containers that come through the ports.

The 14 ports along the East Coast and Gulf Coast handle about 6.5 million import containers annually, or 40% of imports to the U.S. The Port of New York and New Jersey is the largest port on the East Coast and the second largest in the country after the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach combined, where an eight-day strike ended earlier this month.

An East Coast strike “would have a significant impact on everybody through the supply chain,” Gold said.

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