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Retail Giants Hope Obama Ends West Coast Port Dispute

Macy’s says it has been rallying other retail giants to lobby the White House to intervene in the West Coast ports labor disputes before the holiday shopping season begins.

Terry Lundgren, the chief executive officer of Macy’s, said he has sought the help of Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon and the National Retail Federation (NRF) to urge the president to take action to prevent a strike from happening.

The International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) have been continuing tense negotiations ever since their previous six year contract expired in July.

Earlier this month, the PMA accused the ILWU of initiating orchestrated slowdowns at the Pacific Northwest ports to severely impact the holiday season. At the time though, the ILWU denied the accusation.

The main purpose of the PMA is to negotiate and administer labor agreements with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU).

“There’s a big strike potential on the West Coast right now, and it’s Christmas,” Lundgren told Bloomberg News. “It’s a holiday period — we need the inventory to get through the system. This is the wrong time to slow down work.”

Already, labor negotiations, equipment shortages and rail delays have slowed shipments through the ports at Los Angeles and Long Beach in Southern California.

Lundgren told Bloomberg that McMillon and NRF President Matt Shay have already lobbied the White House on the issue.

“It’s not on everybody’s radar screen,” Lundgren added. “This could take $1.9 billion of GDP out of America per day if we have a dock slowdown.”

A new strike or lockout could apply to all 29 West Coast ports which collectively account for 43.5 percent of cargo shipped into the country, according to Bloomberg.

A move by the White House wouldn’t be unprecedented. In 2002, President George W. Bush invoked the Taft-Hartley Act to reopen ports after a labor dispute.

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