Colorado’s beef producers are in a bind, thanks to a labor dispute at dozens of West Coast ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach where workers have refused to load and offload cargo on certain days.
Terminal operators and workers have asked for federal intervention to help resolve the dispute, but calls for mediation have fallen on deaf ears in Washington.
Colorado’s U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner entered the fray this week, and in a letter to top Obama administration officials demanded they take action on the port stalemate to stop the grave economic harm being done to business in his state.
“A single union should not be able to hold the American economy hostage just to gain leverage during contract negotiations. Given these national disruptions to the U.S. economy and industry, the federal government has a duty to act. Please bring your agencies’ authority and resources to bear on this pressing national crisis before it spirals further out of control.”
Weekend shutdowns are expected to create logistical nightmares and are projected to cost $1 billon every day in lost economic activity nationwide. From Colorado, $500 million in beef products travel through the ports before heading to Asia.
“… Our Colorado exports are being turned away at the ports’ gates,” Gardner said. “Grain, machine parts, coal, fishing supplies, furniture, fresh produce and pliable metals are all products of Colorado – and all are being damaged by this labor dispute. Our exporters’ relationships with Asian customers are disintegrating as their products are caught in the bottleneck. Storefronts here in the U.S. are losing customers because products ordered are taking months to reach show floors. Segments of our manufacturers are experiencing production line delays or shutdowns because they can’t get the raw materials they need to produce American goods. Our retailers are even resorting to financially unsustainable air freight just to keep products on the shelves and customers happy.”
American City Business Journals reports that Democrats are even putting pressure on Obama to intervene.
“This has got to get solved,” said Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader of Oregon. “It cannot go on. We believe this is the greatest threat our nation faces right now.”