Release Date: Oct 03, 2002Contact: 888-249-NEWS
U.S. Chamber Hopes Cooler Heads Prevail in Dock Dispute
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Chamber of Commerce urged business owners and union leaders to resume contract negotiations and bring an end to the crippling work stoppage at 29 ports on the west coast.
"We urge the parties to make every effort to quickly come back to the bargaining table and come to an agreement," said Randel Johnson, Chamber vice president of labor and employee policy. "We also urge the administration to take an increasingly active role in facilitating this process. The adverse impact of the dispute on the nation's economy is already severe and will soon prove to be intolerable."
The affected ports handle about $1 billion in shipments every day and even a short-lived slow-down is having significant consequences for an economy that is already struggling, according to the Chamber. The U.S. economy relies on just-in-time inventory and the ripple effect from gridlock is already cascading through the business community including railroads unable to move containers, manufacturers unable to receive parts for assembly, shippers with merchandise stalled at the docks, to retailers experiencing shortages of consumer products.
"It is ironic that in this day of rapid technological advances, the major issue holding up an agreement in this dispute is the desire of the union to preserve outmoded jobs, even though the employers have agreed to protect all current workers," said Johnson.
"Organized labor's opposition to commonplace technology – such as bar code scanners or speed pass systems – is the basis of their resistance to moving our nation's ports into the 21st century," said Johnson. "This sort of hide-bound mentality has given the union movement a bad name and explains the difficulty that the employers in this case face at the bargaining table."
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.