With the one-year anniversary of the West Coast port contract expiration approaching and the US heading into peak shipping seasons for back-to-school and holiday shopping, the American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) is emphasising the critical importance of avoiding work stoppages at the nation’s busiest ports.

Labour negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) have been ongoing for more than 11 months since the previous agreement expired. While there have been some areas of agreement, progress towards a new long-term agreement seems to have stalled.

The AAFA is calling attention to the potential consequences of any port closure, which would lead to backlogs and disrupt the delivery of goods to stores and warehouses, adversely affecting American consumers, workers, and businesses.

The association is urging the Biden Administration to intervene, bringing all parties together to negotiate in good faith and ensure the stability and efficiency of the supply chain.

Steve Lamar, president and CEO of the AAFA, stated: “We applaud engagement from the former Secretary of Labour Marty Walsh through the negotiations earlier in this process. Avoiding any further supply chain crisis is crucial to avoid prevent damage to our economy.

“It is time for the Biden Administration to accelerate efforts to keep all parties at the table for speedy and fair resolution, enabling our supply chains to operate efficiently and responsibly.”

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In a letter addressed to President Biden, the AAFA had already expressed the need for engagement in reaching an essential contract agreement. As the industry association representing apparel and footwear brands, the AAFA has been actively advocating for the swift resolution of the labour negotiations to maintain the smooth flow of goods through the ports.

Back in April, The National Retail Federation (NRF) released a statement regarding the recent disruption of West Coast port operations, expressing concern over the impact on the retail industry and urging the Government to take action to resolve the issue.

This week (6 June) the disruptions at Oakland and Los Angeles Ports prompted the NRF to call for a swift resolution.