Pacific Northwest Members of Congress Call on President to Urge Ports Resolution

Dec 10, 2014 Issues: Trade

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Members of Congress Dave Reichert (WA-8), Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-5), Doc Hastings (WA-4), Jaime Herrera Beutler (WA-3), Kurt Schrader (OR-5), Greg Walden (OR-2), and Mike Simpson (ID-2) sent a letter to President Obama to ask that he encourage the International Longshoreman Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association to use a federal mediator in order to bring about a swift resolution to their current contract negotiations.

The members said, “Communities throughout the Pacific Northwest and across the country rely on thriving ports – which support hundreds of thousands of jobs in our states – to export their products around the world. We strongly urge a swift resolution to the current contract negotiations because countless workers, farmers, consumers, businesses, and families depend on it.”  

This is the second letter Pacific Northwest members of Congress have sent regarding the ILWU and PMA to call for a quick resolution. The first letter was sent directly to the organizations and the text can be found here.

The full text of the letter to the president is below.

Dear Mr. President,

We urge you to encourage the International Longshoremen Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) to use a federal mediator in resolving their current contract negotiations. As members who represent areas which depend on ports, we are concerned about the length of these negotiations and the resulting impact on our constituents.

As these negotiations continue, our ports are losing business we know will not return. This is detrimental to our ports, those who work at the ports and communities across the state. This significantly impacts the economy of the Pacific Northwest and the country as a whole. Each day, we are contacted by our constituents who are feeling the real impact of these negotiations on port operations. Efficient movement of goods is critical for all industries, including agriculture and manufacturing. Our specialty crop producers, who depend on international markets, are unable to export their products and meet customer demands. Our manufacturers face similar challenges of higher costs, lost sales, and delayed production. Across the globe, Washington state products are in demand, but our businesses are facing significant challenges in reaching these consumers.

We recognize the serious task before the parties. However, after over six months of negations, we strongly believe a federal mediator has become necessary. Moreover, we are increasingly concerned that there could be a shutdown at the ports as occurred in 2002. It is estimated that the previous shutdown cost our economy over a billion dollars a day. We cannot afford to let this happen.

To follow up on the requests made by our constituents, the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, and numerous Washington businesses, we strongly believe that a federal mediator is needed to bring a swift resolution to these contract negotiations.