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NRF seeks White House intervention in port negotiations

Matthew Shay

Matthew Shay

The National Retail Federation urged the Obama administration on Monday to sustain negotiations between the United States Maritime Alliance and the International Longshoremen’s Association, saying a coast-wide strike could hinder a recovering economy.

“A strike at any kind at ports along the East and Gulf Coast could prove devastating for the U.S. economy,” Matthew Shay, the president and CEO of the NRF, said. “We call upon you to use all means necessary, including Taft-Hartley, to keep the two sides at the negotiating table and head off a coast-wide strike.”

The NRF warned of supply chain disruptions at ports across the coasts, including Tampa, Baltimore, Boston, Savannah Miami, New Orleans and Houston,

“Allowing a strike to occur for even one day could have a negative impact on all of those downstream businesses and employees who rely on the ports,” Shay said. “The U.S. economy cannot afford to wait for a strike to occur before we see administration action. We urge you to get engaged now with these parties to ensure a strike does not occur.”

Additionally, the NRF said that if a strike or lockout occurs, President Obama could use the Taft-Harley Act, which is intended to protect the free flow of commerce, to bring the groups back to negotiations.

“We cannot afford further supply chain disruptions as we enter 2013,” Shay said. “The two sides must remain at the negotiating table until a deal is reached.”

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