State Lawmakers Demand Immediate Resolution of Labor Dispute to End West Coast Port Shutdown

At a press conference at the State Capitol, state lawmakers urged the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association to immediately come together and work through their differences to resolve the ongoing labor dispute that has impacted operations at West Coast ports and hurt California small businesses.

“The ongoing West Coast port labor dispute is having a devastating impact on our economy. Farmers and ranchers in particular are having a tough time shipping perishable food to customers worldwide. It is unacceptable that California’s economy is essentially being held hostage to a labor dispute,” said Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen, of Modesto. “I am calling for action from President Obama and the federal government to intervene and secure a resolution so we can get our ports fully operating again.”

“Farmers, small business owners, retailers, truckers, consumers and nearly every Californian are being impacted by this ongoing dispute that has brought our ports to a virtual standstill,” said Assemblyman James Gallagher (R-Nicolaus). “I call upon both sides to come together to resolve this dispute without delay. President Obama and the federal government must also use every power at their discretion to bring the parties together to reach a settlement.”

“As we speak, precious fruits and vegetables are rotting in shipping containers that are bottlenecked at our West Coast ports,” said Assemblyman Devon Mathis (R-Porterville). “Our Central Valley has already been hit hard by the ongoing drought. The agricultural products our communities managed to produce despite the lack of water have been thrown to the wayside due to this disruptive labor dispute. We cannot allow these exports to sit for one day longer.”

The labor dispute at the West Coast ports has waged on for nine months. On Wednesday, it was announced that port operations will be suspended for four days as a result of the current labor dispute. According to one estimate, it could cost the country $2.1 billion per day if the ports shut down entirely for 10 days. Worse, congestion at West Coast ports could cost retailers as much as $7 billion this year alone.

Click here to see recent images taken at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports illustrating how the port dispute is impacting shipments in and out of California.

Last month, a bipartisan group of 39 lawmakers sent a letter to both the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association urging them to come together to resolve their ongoing labor dispute.

Not only has the labor dispute disrupted the exports of valuable produce and other goods from California, it has also impacted imports from Asian markets that retailers need to keep their shelves full on a day-to-day basis including consumer electronics and clothing. It is estimated that about 50 percent of all international imports come in through West Coast ports.

"The West Coast port shutdown threatens anyone who produces anything in California," said Assemblywoman Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield). "The shutdown is especially threatening to the jobs of 400,000 Californians in the agricultural industry who have already suffered terribly because of the water shortage. I have little sympathy for these union port workers who are willing to risk the livelihoods of so many hard-working Americans just so they can manipulate their employers into giving them raises to their six figure incomes. This is morally wrong."

“Small businesses are an innocent bystander in the West Coast port shutdown,” said Assemblyman Marc Steinorth (R-Rancho Cucamonga). “Businesses in my district are already laying off employees because shipments are so severely delayed. The government cannot afford to sit on their hands when jobs are lost due to special interests holding the economy hostage."