The National Retail Federation today issued the following statement from Senior Vice President of Government Relations David French after reports of a shutdown at the Ports of Oakland and Los Angeles over the weekend. The new disruptions come as the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association have failed to reach and ratify a new labor agreement following more than a year of negotiations.

“The United States ports, particularly those on the West Coast, play a critical role in the vitality of the American economy. Thousands of retailers and other businesses depend on smooth and efficient operations at the ports to deliver goods to consumers every day.

“As we enter the peak shipping season for the holidays, these additional disruptions will force retailers and other important shipping partners to continue to shift cargo away from the West Coast ports until a new labor contract is established. It is imperative that the parties return to the negotiating table. We urge the administration to mediate to ensure the parties quickly finalize a new contract without additional disruptions.”

As the leading authority and voice of retail, NRF has been a vocal proponent for the parties to enter negotiations before the contract initially expired in July 2022 and to extend the existing contract throughout the negotiations to avoid any disruptions.

In April, NRF issued a statement after the ILWU made the decision to withhold labor at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, forcing the unexpected closure of all terminals.

Earlier this year, NRF organized a coalition letter to President Joe Biden that was signed by more than 230 associations, urging the administration to work with the parties to conclude their negotiations. We reassert our call on the administration to engage with the parties to help them finalize a new contract.