The months-long disruptions at the West Coast ports in the winter of 2014-2015 conservatively cost the Pacific Northwest apple and pear industry $100 million. In addition to lost sales opportunities for growers, packinghouse employees faced reduced shifts and in some cases lost their jobs completely because operators had to slow down packing activities to prevent more backups at the ports. Independent truck drivers who transported the fruit lost wages because they were unable to move as much product because of the substantial time they spent waiting in line to be unloaded.
There were also significant direct costs of the disruptions to packers and shippers, including additional days of cold storage, repositioned containers, and costs imposed by importers due to the shipping delays.
The NHC advocates changing federal law to prevent future labor contract negotiations from interrupting commerce by halting or slowing down operations at our nation’s ports. Specifically, the NHC supports passage by the U.S. Congress of the following bills that have been introduced in the House of Representatives or the Senate:
- S. 1298, the Ports Performance Act, introduced by Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota);
- The Protecting Orderly and Responsible Transit of Shipments (PORTS) Act, introduced in the Senate as S. 1519 by Senator Corey Gardner (R-Colorado), and in the House as H.R. 3343 by Congressman Dave Reichert (R-Washington);
- S. 1630, the Preventing Labor Union Slowdowns (PLUS) Act, introduced by Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho); and
- H.R. 3932, the Ensuring Continued Operations and No Other Major Incidents, Closures, or Slowdowns (ECONOMICS) Act, introduced by Congressman Dan Newhouse (R-Washington).