November 17, 2014
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Calls emerge for presidential intervention as port work slowdown idles factories, delays ag shipments



From potato and apple exporters to major manufacturers dependent on timely imports, the effects of the work slowdown at West Coast ports are rattling and rippling through the economy. With food shipments at risk of rotting, factories shutting down for lack of imported components and holiday gifts stuck offshore, businesses and trade groups are calling for President Barack Obama's administration to intervene and appoint a federal mediator.

The problems are widespread, The Seattle Times reports. The newspaper cited diverse examples, from a Pasco potato exporter that has only shipped six of 42 containers that should already be on the way to Asia to trucking companies that have seen business drop by 80 percent. Northwest Public Radio reports that SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers in Moses Lake closed for three days last week due to the inability to receive the parts and materials from the ports they need to continue manufacturing their carbon parts for BMW.

A contract between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents terminal operators and shipping lines at 29 West Coast ports, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, expired July 1. The PMA said the union has begun slowing traffic and container movement "to the brink of gridlock."

More than 100 groups representing farmers, wholesalers, retailers and logistics providers have asked Obama to prevent the slowdowns from turning into a complete shutdown. A 20-day shutdown could cost the economy as much as $49.9 billion.

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MOVING IN THE WRONG DIRECTION

Long term, transportation funding is school funding

By The News Tribune editorial board

"Children before concrete" is one of the catchphrases of people who've been fighting transportation funding in the Legislature.

It's a false choice. Smart investments in highway and transit infrastructure don't steal money from schools and social welfare programs. They create jobs and expand the economy, helping pay for public services that benefit children and everyone else.

The 2015 Legislature will rightly focus on increasing public school funding, as mandated by the state Supreme Court's 2012 McCleary decision. But this shouldn't mean stiffing the state's infrastructure needs. It's not an either-or dilemma: Further investment in transportation is needed to fully fund public education over the long haul.

Click here for the full column in The News Tribune
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