WASHINGTON, DC -- The USA Rice Federation, along with more than 90 groups representing food, agriculture, and trade, released an open letter expressing "deep disappointment" that unresolved contract negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union are causing shipping slowdowns at West Coast ports. The letter asks that the two parties "resolve their differences as quickly as possible" and also urges "the federal government to consider all available remedies to bring this dispute to a rapid end."
Last May, the parties began negotiating a new six-year contract covering 29 West Coast container ports in anticipation of the July 2014 expiration of the previous contract. After nine months and no resolution, the parties recently requested the assistance of a federal mediator. The West Coast port strike is a concern in California, causing delays and significant additional costs. Typically up to half of the California rice crop is exported and more than half of that is in containers.
"As these negotiations drag on, the movement of commerce slows," said USA Rice COO Bob Cummings. "We are concerned that these delays have a direct effect on export sales for rice and so we joined with others encouraging a quick settlement that will allow everyone to get back to work."
Contact: Deborah Willenborg (703) 236-1444