Categorized | Government, News

Slom: Hawaii could face food, goods shortages

MEDIA RELEASE

Sen. Sam Slom will express his concern about the West Coast shipping labor dispute Friday on the Senate floor, and will file a Senate resolution calling on President Obama to use his power under the Taft-Hartley Act to force the parties to return to normal work and negotiate.

Negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) have ground to a halt, with the PMA indicating it could be five to 10 days away from a lockout.

As a result, Hawaii could be facing extreme delays in shipments of goods and empty store shelves.

Slom said, “A lockout on the West Coast would be devastating to Hawaii. It would result in food and household goods shortages, and could have serious economic effects for Hawaii, including affecting our number one industry, tourism. Because the parties have no obligation to arbitrate, the battle between the PMA and ILWU is getting out of control. It is time for our President of the United States and our unheard from congressional delegates to get involved and use the power of their offices to take this in hand and clear the congestion in West Coast ports.”

PMA president and CEO Jim McKenna publicized its last and final offer to the unionized longshoremen and dockworkers of West Coast ports, with whom PMA has been in negotiations since expiration of their labor contract.

PMA indicated that with congestion at the terminals increasing and low productivity, there is a gridlock at ports, and without a response from the union to send people back to work, a complete lockout is only five to 10 days away.

Wednesday’s press conference by McKenna was the first since negotiations began in May 2014 for the renewal of the “Coast Contract” which expired July 1, 2014.

For weeks, Hawaii grocery stores and wholesalers have experienced shortages, highlighting the islands’ dependence on the shipping industry.

If a lockout were to occur, a variety of items from food products to household items could be in short supply not just for Hawaii but for all noncontiguous US trades like Alaska and Puerto Rico.

American Samoa, for example, has not had a shipment come in from a West Coast port for over a month.

For months, shipping containers have sat untouched at docks like San Pedro and Los Angeles, forcing incoming ships to wait offshore, immobilized and unable to offload new containers.

With no workers to process the containers and move the goods onto trucks for delivery to retailers, goods have spoiled and been rendered worthless.

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