ILA Strike Watch 2024 – US Trade Groups Ask Biden to Get ILA to Negotiation Table

 In exporters, exports, ILA Strike, ILA Strike Watch, ILA Strike Watch 2024, importers, importing, Imports, International Shipping, ocean freight, ocean shipping, President Biden, Supply Chain

It’s been over two weeks since the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) abruptly cancelled contract negotiations on the day they were to finally resume. There has been no sign of the union relenting and going to the negotiation table. The ILA said it will strike if a new deal is not reached by the time the current contract expires. That happens September 30th. Thus, Universal Cargo’s ILA Strike Watch 2024 continues…

Photo of Joe Biden by Gage Skidmore
Photo of Joe Biden by Gage Skidmore

Shippers are rightfully becoming more and more anxious at the prospect of East and Gulf Coast Ports shutting down over a new ILA master contract. The union’s threat to cripple supply chains with a strike combined with its unwillingness to sit at the negotiating table has a wide array of U.S. shippers, retailers, manufacturers, and distributors writing to President Biden and his administration for help.

The best hope shippers have of the Biden Administration taking action is the fact that it’s an election year. That has caused the administration to finally attempt action on important issues to voters it has ignored its entire term. For example, after three-plus years of ignoring the crisis on the Southern border that his administration created by removing effective policies, Biden used executive order this month in an attempt to address it.

truckers strike Port of Los Angeles Long Beach

U.S. supply chains shutting down right before the election would not be good for the president’s chances of reelection. Perhaps that is enough to make President Biden step into the ILA contract negotiation (or lack thereof) situation.

However, unions also tend to be large contributors to the Democratic Party, so Democrat politicians don’t easily go against the wishes of large unions like the ILA. Despite President Biden calling himself the most union-friendly president in history, the ILA has said it does not want any mediation from his administration, even if negotiations are not going well.

Forget not going well. Negotiations are not going at all.

That brings us back to a giant coalition of shippers associations and business groups from around the U.S. signing a letter to President Biden, urging him to help. They point out the Biden Administration’s “key priority” of “supply chain resiliency and addressing ongoing supply chain challenges” while highlighting the current ILA situation and emphasizing the negative impact their strike would have on the economy.

The ultimate ask is for the Biden Administration to work with both parties, the ILA and their employers – the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) – to get them to the negotiating table, so a new contract can be reached before a strike shuts down U.S. East and Gulf Coast ports.

Below is the full text of the letter to President Biden…

Full Letter to President Biden from U.S. Trade Groups

June 25, 2024

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Biden,

On behalf of the undersigned organizations representing manufacturers, farmers and agribusinesses, wholesalers, retailers, importers, exporters, distributors, transportation and logistics providers, and other supply chain stakeholders, we are writing to you regarding labor negotiations between the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX). This labor contract, which covers all maritime ports along the East and Gulf coasts, is set to expire on September 30, 2024. Negotiations were set to begin again on the master contract the week of June 10. Unfortunately, the ILA issued a press release on June 10 stating they would not return to the bargaining table because of a local issue. In addition, the ILA has threatened a coastwide strike if a new deal is not reached before the current contract expires. We call upon the administration to immediately work with both parties to resume contract negotiations and ensure there is no disruption to port operations and cargo fluidity.

One of the key priorities for the administration has been supply chain resiliency and addressing ongoing supply chain challenges. We continue to see maritime supply chain challenges from the ongoing Houthi attacks on vessels transiting the Red Sea. This has led to other supply chain issues: congestion and lack of equipment at overseas ports, carrier capacity issues as they continue to divert vessels away from the Red Sea, and increased freight rates.

With all these existing challenges, the last thing the supply chain, companies and employees — all of which rely on the movement of goods, both imports and exports, through our East Coast and Gulf Coast ports — need is a strike or other disruptions because of an ongoing labor negotiation. As this administration has seen, even the threat of a strike or disruption can have a negative impact on the supply chain.

Such disruptions and their negative economic impact are well documented. We witnessed a significant shift of cargo from the West Coast to the East Coast and Gulf Coast ports because of the challenges and uncertainty during the last West Coast port labor negotiations. While much of that business has remained at the East Coast and Gulf Coast ports, we are starting to see a shift back to West Coast gateways, where a long-term contract is in place, especially as we enter the busy peak shipping season.

We know there are a number of issues for the ILA and USMX to negotiate as part of the contract. However, the only way to resolve these issues is for the parties to come back to the bargaining table and actually negotiate the new contract. We encourage the administration to provide any and all support to the parties in their negotiations so they can reach a final agreement before the current contract expires.

As we have seen with previous supply chain-related negotiations, the only way the parties can reach an agreement that will ensure their continued global competitiveness and that of the supply chain stakeholders that rely upon them is to remain at the table until a new agreement is finalized.


Agribusiness Council of Indiana
Agriculture Transportation Coalition – AgTC
Airforwarders Association
Alliance for Automotive Innovation
Alliance for Chemical Distribution
American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA)
American Chemistry Council
American Coatings Association, Inc.
American Composites Manufacturers Association
American Down and Feather Council
American Feed Industry Association
American Forest & Paper Association
American Frozen Foods Institute
American Home Furnishings Alliance
American Lighting Association
American Pyrotechnics Association
American Soybean Association
American Spice Trade Association
American Trucking Associations
Arizona Trucking Association
Associated Builders and Contractors
Associated Equipment Distributors
Autos Drive America
California Bean Shippers Association
California Building Industry Association
California Citrus Mutual
CAWA – Representing the Automotive Parts Industry
Coalition of New England Companies for Trade
Columbia River Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association
Consumer Brands Association
Cotton Growers Warehouse Association
International Wood Products Association
Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association
Kansas Chamber & Kansas Retail Council
Kentucky Retail Federation
Leather and Hide Council of America
Louisiana Retailers Association
Los Angeles Customs Brokers & Freight
Forwarders Association
Maryland Retailers Alliance
Meat Import Council of America
Meat Institute
MEMA, The Vehicle Suppliers Association
Michigan Retailers Association
Minnesota Grain and Feed Association
Missouri Retailers Association
Motorcycle Industry Council
National Association of Beverage Importers (NABI)
National Association of Egg Farmers
National Association of Manufacturers
National Association of Wheat Growers
National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors
National Council of Farmer Cooperatives
National Cotton Council
National Council of Chain Restaurants
National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA)
National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA)
National Fisheries Institute
National Industrial Transportation League (NITL)
National Lumber & Building Material Dealers Association
National Milk Producers Federation
National Oilseed Processors Association
National Pork Producers Council
National Restaurant Association
National Retail Federation
National Sporting Goods Association
National Wooden Pallet & Container Association
Nebraska Trucking Association
Nevada Trucking Association
New Jersey Motor Truck Association
U.S. Dairy Export Council
U.S. Fashion Industry Association
U.S. Meat Export Federation
USA Rice
Vinyl Institute
Virginia Trucking Association
Washington Trucking Associations
West Virginia Retailers Association
Window & Door Manufacturers AssociationShipp

Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)
Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP)
Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of Northern California
Customs Brokers & International Freight Forwarders Association of Washington State
Distilled Spirits Council of the United States
Fashion Accessories Shippers Association
Fashion Jewelry & Accessories Trade Association
Florida Retail Federation
Florida Trucking Association
FMI – The Food Industry Association
Footwear Distributors & Retailers of America (FDRA)
Foreign Trade Association
Forest Resources Association
Game Manufacturers Association
Gemini Shippers Association
Georgia Motor Trucking Association, Inc.
Georgia Retailers
Glass Packaging Institute
Global Cold Chain Alliance
Grain and Feed Association of Illinois
Green Coffee Association, Inc.
Greenabl Shippers Association
Heating, Air-conditioning, & Refrigeration Distributors International
Home Fashion Products Association
Household & Commercial Products Association
Illinois Retail Merchants Association
Independent Electrical Contractors
Intermodal Motor Carriers Conference
International Association of Movers
International Dairy Foods Association
International Fresh Produce Association
International Housewares Association
International Shippers’ Association
International Warehouse Logistics Association (IWLA)
New Jersey Retail Merchants Association
New York New Jersey Foreign Freight Forwarders and Brokers Association Inc.
North American Association of Food Equipment
Manufacturers (NAFEM)
North American Home Furnishings Association
North American Millers’ Association
North American Renderers Association
North Carolina Agribusiness Council, Inc.
Oregon Trucking Association
Pacific Coast Council of Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Assns. Inc.
Pennsylvania Retailers’ Association
Plumbing Manufacturers International
PRINTING United Alliance
Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association
Recycled Materials Association
Renewable Fuels Association
Retail Association of Nevada
Retail Council of New York State
Retail Industry Leaders Association
Retail Merchants of Hawaii
Retailers Association of Massachusetts
Rhode Island Trucking Association
San Diego Customs Brokers Association
Shippers Coalition
Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates (SOCMA)
South Dakota Association of Cooperatives
South Dakota Soybean Association
Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA)
Specialty Vehicle Institute of America
Sports & Fitness Industry Association
Tag and Label Manufacturers Institute
Tea Association of the U.S.A., Inc.
Texas Retailers Association
Texas Trucking Association
The Fertilizer Institute
The Halloween & Costume Association
The Sulphur Institute
The Sweet Potato Council of the US
Toy Association
Transportation Intermediaries Association
Travel Goods Association (TGA)
Trucking Association of New York
U.S. Apple Association
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Wine Institute
Wood Industry Association

CC: The Honorable Pete Buttigieg, Secretary, Department of Transportation
The Honorable Julie Su, Acting Secretary, Department of Labor
The Honorable Gina Raimondo, Secretary, Department of Commerce
The Honorable Tom Vilsack, Secretary, Department of Agriculture
The Honorable Lael Brainard, Director, National Economic Council
Mr. Harold Daggett, President, International Longshoremen’s Association
Mr. David Adam, President, United States Maritime Alliance

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