Coast-wide port strike could impact Easter shoes and summer swimwear

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At 12:01 AM on Sunday, December 30, 2012, 15 container ports along the East and Gulf Coast– stretching from Maine to Texas – will immediately shut down if an agreement isn’t made between the International Longshoremen’s Association, who represent the dockworkers, and the United States Maritime Alliance, Ltd., who represent the terminal managers.

The two sides have been negotiating a new labor contract for months, with the assistance of federal mediators, but their talks recently broke down, signaling that a coast-wide supply chain disruption is imminent. The last time these ports experienced a strike was 1977.

A port strike or lockout – coming on the heels of Superstorm Sandy, which closed the Ports of New York/New Jersey, and the eight-day strike at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach – would impact every importer and exporter who relies these ports to move their commerce.

For retailers, this means shipments of spring and summer merchandise, such as shoes, home goods, swimwear and patio furniture, could be affected. But it’s not just retail, from manufacturers and wholesalers to farmers and transportation companies (trucking, rail, warehouse, etc.), the strike would impact most of America’s major industries.

National Retail Federation Vice President for Supply Chain and Customs Policy Jonathan Gold recently went on CNBC’s “The Kudlow Report” to discuss the looming “container cliff” and to call on the White House to intervene to avert another economic and supply chain crisis.

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