A West Coast port strike that threatened retailers’ supply chains during the holiday season is over, but NRF is urging labor, management and lawmakers not to let the same thing happen on the East Coast when a separate labor contract comes to an end just after Christmas.
“The retail community is pleased to see a settlement of the strike,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said this morning after striking union members at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach reached a tentative settlement with management and agreed to go back to work. “The nation’s largest port facility is now re-opened and operating and will hopefully be able to quickly recover from the shutdown.”
Shay said NRF’s attention will now shift to East Coast and Gulf Coast ports, where longshoremen came within days of a September 30 strike deadline before agreeing to continue negotiations with a federal mediator through the end of December.
“We urge the parties to reach a final agreement before their contract extension ends,” Shay said. “Our economy cannot withstand another port disruption.”
The week-long LA/Long Beach strike came after most imported holiday merchandise had already arrived, but threatened retailers’ ability to restock as the season continues. An East Coast/Gulf Coast strike around New Year’s would not affect holiday sales, but could affect retailers bringing in items such as big screen televisions that are hot sellers around the Super Bowl, or spring merchandise such as patio furniture.
Settlement of the West Coast strike came after NRF sent a letter to President Obama last week asking him to use “all means necessary” to get workers back on the job. NRF followed up this week with a joint letter from close to 100 associations asking Obama to use his power under the Taft-Hartley Act to order strikers back to work. NRF also held daily conference calls for member companies throughout the strike and conducted numerous interviews with the news media to raise awareness of the impact the strike would have on the economy and job creation.