SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 12, 2012 (PPI Pulp & Paper Week) -Before contract talks started Monday for negotiators representing East and Gulf coast port workers, and employers, the employees' union leaders of the International Longshoremen's Association (ILA) provided ILA pres Harold Daggett with the authority to call a strike if needed.
The vote occurred before contract talks opened on Monday in Delray Beach, FL. The deadline for an agreement is Dec. 29. The contract covers 15 East and Gulf Coast ports.
Also, recently, shipping lines put out a surcharge price increase of $1,000 per 40 ft container, effective right after the Dec. 29 deadline.
The ILA is negotiating with the US Maritime Alliance.
The ILA claims that a key contract issue involves container royalty payments to port workers, which the ILA said the Marine Alliance wants to cap at the present rate of $15,500 per year per employee.
"We understand and recognize that there are tough issues that need to be resolved," said Matthew Shay, National Retail Federation pres/CEO in a letter to both sides this week. "The issues will only be resolved, however, by agreeing to stay at the negotiating table until a final deal is reached. Failure to reach agreement will lead to supply chain disruptions which could seriously harm the U.S. economy."
Today, the American Forest & Paper Association (AF&PA) recommended the sides reach a long-term agreement.
"If the ILA and the USMX are not able to negotiate an agreement, any impending strike and subsequent shutdown of major East Coast port would have far-reaching, costly, and disruptive implications for not only the U.S. forest products industry, but for manufacturers and distributers across the supply chain," said AF&PA pres/CEO Donna Harman.
Harman added that a strike would put "further strain on our already fragile economy."