Kelly Kolb, VP government affairs of the Arlington, Virginia-based Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), made a statement on behalf of the organization regarding union contract negotiations at West Coast ports.
With the deadline to resolve the negotiations drawing near, RILA said its priority was to avoid work stoppage and to keep supply chains functioning as usual.
"The window to resolve the contract negotiations is rapidly closing," she said. "Failure to secure a deal by the June 30 deadline would be particularly undesirable to the retail community as it jeopardizes the movement of goods destined for shelves during the all-important back-to-school and upcoming holiday seasons. Undertaking all the essential measures to avoid work stoppages and strikes that halt the supply chain should be the top priority."
Kolb added that the organization was hoping to avoid a similar fallout as the work stoppage of 2002, during which the American economy lost nearly $1 billion per day.
"In light of those memories, many retailers have taken stock of the uncertain labor situation at the West Coast ports and have implemented contingency plans to preserve the reliability of their supply chains," she continued. "Some of our members advise that they are beginning to reroute shipments through other channels, taking advantage of more stable routes that became essential during the protracted disputes of 2002."
"As both sides understand, modifications to the massive supply chain plans of the retail industry take time to implement and even longer to undo. The importance of preserving reliable channels for retail supply chains cannot be understated," she concluded.