Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif issued a statement today calling on President Obama to intervene in the negotiations to bring about a prompt resolution of the ongoing dispute between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshoreman and Warehouse Union (ILWU) workers. Fresh fruit and vegetable exports continue to face serious deliverability issues in the wake of the dispute that has disrupted international commerce and threatens daily financial losses that could run into the billions.
Nassif’s statement in part stated that “Perishable agricultural commodities cannot withstand these types of unplanned delays and neither can customers. Many shippers have made the hard decision to forego exports hoping to find alternative homes for their produce, in some instances fetching a lower price for the farmers.”
The statement followed an announcement today by PMA that said it would suspend operations at 29 West Coast ports for four of the next five days to prevent paying overtime to dockworkers for two holidays and two weekend days. According to a Wall Street Journal Story, which cites PMA, members of the union earn “at least 50% on top of their normal wage rates” during holidays and weekends. Today is considered a holiday as it honors President Lincoln’s birthday and Monday is officially President’s Day. As a result, tomorrow is the only day until next Tuesday that workers will not remain idle.
Additionally, a group of bi-partisan legislators held a news conference today calling for both sides to come to a “swift resolution” to their dispute. Members participating in the news conference, included:
- House Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)
- House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)
- Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)
- Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA)
- Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA)
- Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA)
- Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA)
- Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR)
- NRCC Chairman Greg Walden (R-WA)
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