December 1, 2014
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Port slowdown continues; as economy loses millions, calls grow for federal mediation

The work slowdown and escalating labor dispute at West Coast ports “is having a huge impact,” said Todd Fryhover, president of the Washington Apple Commission. Apple packing and shipping firms are laying off and reassigning workers by the hundreds as exports are down 80 percent.

Meanwhile, negotiations between the longshore union and the firm representing West Coast ports took almost two weeks off and will resume on Tuesday. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union pledges not to shut down work completely, but so far has not agreed to sign a temporary contact with the Pacific Maritime Association to bring the workflow back to normal.

In an editorial on Black Friday – the busiest shopping day of the year – The News Tribune called the port dispute a national economic emergency. “Many thousands of workers are staring at a bleak Christmas,” the newspaper wrote. “Obama has other issues on his plate, but he ought to be able to spare some attention for this fast-metastasizing crisis.”

(Photo by Deborah Fitchett via Flickr)

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Port slowdown's potential devastating impacts on Washington businesses

By AWB President Kris Johnson and Jon DeVaney, president of the Washington State Tree Fruit Association

The contract dispute between West Coast dockworkers unions and the Pacific Maritime Association has nearly ground Seattle and Tacoma port traffic to a halt at the worst possible time. In our trade-heavy state, businesses are rightly worried this contract standstill could lead to a complete work stoppage.

According to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), when a breakdown in contract negotiations resulted in a 10-day lockout in 2002, it cost the U.S. economy an estimated $1 billion a day, and took half a year to clear the backlog. A shutdown now could be even more costly, an estimated $2 billion each day, according to a study conducted by NAM and the National Retail Federation.

Given our dependence on ports for nearly all industries -- imports and exports --  the slowdown could ultimately impact already-stressed state and local budgets.

The timing is devastating for agriculturists and retailers...

READ MORE: Click here for the full op-ed column from Kris Johnson and Jon DeVaney in The Seattle Times
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