WASHINGTON —Today Senators Mike Braun, Richard Burr and James Risch sent a letter to President Biden to express their concern regarding upcoming contract negotiations at America’s West Coast ports.
Joining Senators Braun, Burr and Risch in sending the letter were Senators Marsha Blackburn, Mike Crapo, Steve Daines, Mitt Romney, Kevin Cramer, Michael Rounds, Roger Wicker, Cynthia Lummis, Thom Tillis, John Boozman, John Thune, Todd Young, John Hoeven, Roger Marshall, Ted Cruz and Bill Cassidy.
The Senators fear that poor contract negotiations will result in additional supply chain disruptions, exacerbated freight congestion, and further harm manufacturing in the United States.
In the letter, the Senators urged the President to use the tools available and to work with both the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), to guarantee contract negotiations are successfully completed before the contraction expiration date of July 1, 2022.
The Senators write:
“We have heard from a number of stakeholders with concerns that a breakdown in negotiations between the ILWU and PMA will lead to even more disruptions and shipping delays at a time in which our nation’s ports are reporting record backlogs. The West Coast ports account for over 44 percent of our nation’s port traffic. The Port of Los Angeles alone has a backlog of over 70 ships waiting to unload. Unfortunately, these ports are already ill-equipped to deal with the current backlog, let alone even more backlog caused by failed negotiations. According to the 2020 World Bank’s Global Container Port Productivity Index, West Coast ports often rank near the bottom of the index and are inefficient when compared to other ports.”
The letter continues to explain how failed contract negotiations between ILWU and PMA have contributed to supply chain grid lock even before the Biden administration.
The Senators conclude:
“Any delays caused by failed negotiations will have a drastic cost and impact on our nation’s supply chain. This cost will be felt by not only retailers and others that rely on ports for their business, but also by millions of American workers, farmers, and ranchers, who may face short-term shutdowns at their factories or barriers to shipping their products to market.”