RILA notes concern on union contract talks at West Coast ports as deadline looms

Arlington, Va. – With the deadline to resolve the union contract negotiations at West Coast closing in, the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) on Friday said that undertaking essential measures to avoid work stoppage and preserve reliable channels for retail supply chains should be the top priority.

RILA issued the following statement, which it attributed to Kelly Kolb, VP government affairs:

"The window to resolve the contract negotiations is rapidly closing. Failure to secure a deal by the June 30 deadline would be particularly undesirable to the retail community as it jeopardizes the movement of goods destined for shelves during the all-important back-to-school and upcoming holiday seasons. Undertaking all the essential measures to avoid work stoppages and strikes that halt the supply chain should be the top priority.

"While the retail community remains hopeful that a deal can be reached before the current contract expires, memories of the challenges from 2002 are still fresh in the minds of many. During the work stoppage of those negotiations, the American economy lost nearly a billion dollars a day, as goods passed out of season and produce rotted on the docks.

"In light of those memories, many retailers have taken stock of the uncertain labor situation at the west coast ports and have implemented contingency plans to preserve the reliability of their supply chains. Some of our members advise that they are beginning to reroute shipments through other channels, taking advantage of more stable routes that became essential during the protracted disputes of 2002.

"As both sides understand, modifications to the massive supply chain plans of the retail industry take time to implement and even longer to undo. The importance of preserving reliable channels for retail supply chains cannot be understated."

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