President Obama Gets Involved in Port Issue

After almost nine months of negotiations with little results President Obama has ordered Labor Secretary Tom Perez on Saturday to renew talks between shipping companies and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.  The slowdown at the West Coast ports has cost the cotton industry millions in cancelled contracts and delayed shipments.  In addition, the cotton industry has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional and extraordinary container fees, chassis fees, storage fees and congestion management fees.  The slowdowns have become progressively worse, culminating in a major shutdown this past weekend.  The involvement by the administration is seen as the only way to bring this dispute to an end, as both sides have refused to budge.  “The negotiations over the functioning of the West Coast ports have been taking place for months with the administration urging the parties to resolve their differences,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said Saturday. “Out of concern for the economic consequences of further delay, the president has directed his Secretary of Labor Tom Perez to travel to California to meet with the parties to urge them to resolve their dispute quickly at the bargaining table.”  Many cotton merchants have resorted to shipping products out of Houston or East Coast ports.  The California Cotton Ginners and Growers Associations (CCGGA) have been heavily involved in this issue, updating Senator Feinstein and Governor Brown on a daily basis, including participating in periodic conference calls with these offices to update their representatives on the devastating impact of this dispute on the tree nut industry.  CCGGA President Roger Isom said “These delays cannot continue and we urge the Administration to move swiftly and decisively in bringing this dispute to a resolution.”