“Container Cliff” Dodged as Mediators Reach Tentative Agreement

Container Cliff“The last thing the economy needs right now is another strike, which would impact all international trade and commerce at the nation’s East and Gulf Coast container ports. This is truly a ‘container cliff’ in the making,” commented Jonathan Gold, the vice president for Supply Chain and Customs Policy for the National Retail Federation, in a statement.

Gold was referencing a coast-wide strike that the International Longshoremen’s Association began preparations for in light of failed contract negotiations with the United States Maritime Alliance, which represents the employers of the East and Gulf Coast longshore industry.

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Fiscal cliff terminology may be melodramatic and played out by now, but Gold’s comment resonates with the severity of the issue. A strike would have been economically devastating, and a solution was ostensibly just a few cogent negotiations and reasonable compromises away.

That being said, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service issued a statement on December 28 stating that a tentative agreement has been reached between the two parties.

Previously, the ILA commented that “Master Contract negotiations are not progressing well and it is expected that there will be a coastwise strike beginning at 12:01 A.M. on Sunday, December 30, 2012.” On December 24, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service released a statement saying that director George Cohen has called a meeting between the two parties, which have both agreed to attend.

The NRF had been vocal about the tremendous economic impact that a strike could have, calling on President Barack Obama to personally engage with the negotiations. Under the Taft-Hartley Act, the President has federal authority to prevent the union from striking…