Western Growers and the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (CFVGA) issued a joint statement last week applauding the introduction of legislation aimed at minimizing economic harm at ports due to labor disputes.
Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), introduced the Protecting Orderly and Responsible Transit of Shipments (PORTS) Act on June 4, 2015. The bill expands upon existing Taft-Hartley authority which is already applicable in the case of port disruptions and disputes. The PORTS Act would grant authority currently reserved only for the president, to state governors, including the ability to convene a board of inquiry and start the Taft Hartley process when a dispute is causing economic harm.
Western Growers President and CEO Tom Nassif said, “I applaud the leadership Senator Gardner is providing on this critical issue. The damage caused by the port disruptions along the West Coast over the past year demand Congressional action. While the issues involved may be politically challenging and there is no silver bullet, it is clear that leaders need more tools to address these disruptions if they occur in the future. We welcome this first step towards legislative action and look to members of both parties in the Senate and House to pursue additional measures to avoid these crises in the future.”
“We are glad to see Senator Gardner step up to tackle a difficult issue and one that had a significant impact on Colorado growers over the past year,” said Robert Sakata of Sakata Farms in Brighton, Colorado, a Western Growers member and head of the Colorado Fruit and Vegetable Association. While, Colorado is not home to a port and is not the leading state for agriculture exports, many of our growers were significantly impacted when products from other states intended for export were kept in the United States, flooding the domestic market in a manner that lead to devastating impact for many Colorado producers.”