Business

Rick Scott Urges President Obama to Wade into East Coast Port Negotiations

By: Jim Turner | Posted: December 22, 2012 3:55 AM

With potential economic blows coming to ports in Jacksonville, Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa, Gov. Rick Scott is urging President Obama to broker negotiations between the International Longshoremen's Association and the United States Maritime Alliance, which is comprised of container companies and port associations.

Without any settlement or outside intervention, the union is set to strike Dec. 29.
Jaxpot longshoreman

Noting that a 10-day lockout in 2001 resulted in an estimated $10 billion in impact, Scott implored the president to consider using the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act which gives the nation’s top executive the power to directly address the dispute and order striking workers back to work for 80 days.

“If a strike occurs, it is not only the state of Florida that will be affected, but the entire country,” Scott wrote.

“The international liner Shipping industry, as well as retailers and distributors, are already preparing for inevitable shortages and supply chain backlash issues at ports outside the region that would remain operative in the event of a strike or lockout. A strike will affect everyone -- including ports on the West Coast -- as well as our intermodal capabilities. This issue must be addressed and resolved immediately.”

President George W. Bush invoked the law in 2001 to push negotiations between West Coast shipping companies and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.

The International Longshoremen's Association, which hasn’t gone on strike since 1977, and the U.S. Maritime Alliance Ltd., have been bickering since March over a six-year contract covering container work at the ports.

The two sides, according to the Wall Street Journal, are stuck over the management proposal to cap “container royalty” payments, which are used for worker salaries and health care.

The current payment rates were set in the 1960s, when the docks had more workers as automation and container cargo were introduced.

The union, part of the AFL-CIO, opposes the president using Taft-Hartley.

The National Retail Federation made a similar plea on Monday without getting any public response from the White House.

“A strike of any kind at ports along the East and Gulf Coast could prove devastating for the U.S. economy,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay wrote to the president.

“We call upon you to use all means necessary, including Taft-Hartley, to keep the two sides at the negotiating table and head off a coastwide strike.”

The NRF claims that a strike or lockout would immediately halt operations at ports located in: Boston, New York/New Jersey, Delaware River, Baltimore, Hampton Roads, Wilmington, Charleston, Savannah, Jacksonville, Port Everglades, Miami, Tampa, Mobile, New Orleans, and Houston.



Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.



Comments (4)

Decent Wages for ALL
9:17AM DEC 27TH 2012
Yes alan, you assume too much. What you FAIL to understand is that prices for everything have been going up while wages have stagnated. Wages need to go up across the board! Scott is essentially asking Obama for an assist to the GOP in their destruction of the middle class and to help the wealthy get wealthier. Thanks to the timing of this request, Obama now has even more leverage with the fiscal cliff! LOL
alan
10:49PM DEC 23RD 2012
Nice try libs. The ILA and USMA are locked in, there is no other option at the ports unfortunately. Ergo, (that means "therefore), the Gov must operate within the parameters (the rules) available. So, he has to deal with the unions, and the best way to do that is via applicable laws, such as Taft-Hartley (this old, dusty old law still applies, who would have figured?). Gov Scott's objective is to keep the ports operating so that the state and the people do not lose money. Low costs generate more cargo business, more jobs, more prosperity, etc. Your objective would be a strike I suppose, that hurts everyone? WBP, this is not a states rights issue, all ILA are unionized, just another weight on our ability to compete. There are no non-unionized port operators. Becca, haha, bless your heart, your comments are groovy. Think FL is Cali? Think Tampa is Long Beach? I live in Cali, Becca, on the Pacific Ocean. FL does not have the money to play the silly union games that Cali does. Neither does Cali, but that is a different story as they head into bankruptcy. Jack up the cost of shipping at FL ports and the ships will go north or to another Gulf port. The ships go wherever the cost is lowest to unload. That could be a west coast port, or one of the many Mexican ports. This is not a time to be jacking up costs, that is, if you understand import/export, and economics. Maybe I assume too much.
becca
12:18PM DEC 23RD 2012
The current payment rates were set in the 1960's. Scott, as usual, wants to jump the gun and invoke some old, dusty law. Any rational person could see some talks and negotiations are in order. Scott crawl back under your rock and leave this to the people who know how to use logic, and critical thinking that leads to effective problem-solving.
wbp
9:35AM DEC 23RD 2012
thought he was a states rights guy. guess not when it's what he wants.
weasel !

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