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American footwear industry pleased with West Coast ports labor agreement

Feb 25, 2015 United States
American footwear industry pleased with West Coast ports labor agreement
The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) announced a tentative agreement on a new five-year contract covering workers at all 29 West Coast ports
The deal was reached with the assistance from US Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh. Details of the agreement, still subject to ratification by both parties, weren’t released at this time.

"The footwear industry is extremely excited about tonight's announcement that a deal has been reached between the PMA and the ILWU", stated the President of Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America (FDRA), Matt Priest at the time of the announcement, adding:  "Our members and the industry at large rely on a complex and innovative global supply chain to deliver footwear to American consumers. Recent delays distinctly highlighted the importance of collaborative and efficient operations at our nation's ports. We applaud both the PMA and the ILWU for working so hard to find a resolution to the negotiations and look forward to full adoption of the agreement and the immediate resumption of port operations."

Priest added: "Over the next few weeks, we will start to see a slight reduction in congestion at the ports. However, with thousands of containers stacked up on boats and dockside, we strongly encourage the ports and longshoremen to work together to unwind the large backlog and help us get our footwear through the ports and into our warehouses as quickly as possible."

Also Juanita D. Duggan, President and CEO of the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) congratulated the parties for the results achieved: “After months of delays at our West Coast ports, we are pleased to hear that the ILWU and PMA have finally reached an agreement and ended their dispute. Now, we urge both sides to ratify the deal as quickly as possible so that the backlog at the ports can be cleared, and normal operations can resume."

Duggan added that with nearly 50% of all clothing and shoes entering the US through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach alone, the dispute had already caused extreme delays and millions in lost sales.

Both sides have been negotiating since May last year, and operating the ports without a contract since the 1st of July 2014, when the previous six-year contract expired.

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