NY/NJ ports reopen after shutdowns; retailers still worried

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From Retail Dive:

Dive Brief:

  • Cargo was stranded for nine hours Friday as some 1,000 members of the International Longshoremen’s Association staged an unscheduled work stoppage.
  • The port workers are reportedly frustrated with some actions of the The Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, a New York/New Jersey agency established in 1953 to fight corruption and crime at the ports. The Waterfront Commission has been under fire for some time for what critics see as meddling in the shipping industry. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie last year vetoed a bill to abolish the commission but admitted a need for reform. Efforts in that state to dissolve the commission and transfer operations to the state police are ongoing.
  • The Port of New York & New Jersey is the busiest port on the East Coast, with more than three million containers coming through annually and bringing in imports worth more than $200 billion. The stoppage last week was ultimately declared illegal by an arbitrator.

Dive Insight:

  • Friday’s port work stoppage came after a winter storm also shut down operations there for two days, and one retail group warned that such actions could be devastating for retailers, which are already battling inventory problems.
  • “This is déjà vu for retailers, and an unwelcome start to 2016. A shutdown on the East Coast of any meaningful duration will have dire consequences for those dependent on spring inventory deliveries,” Kelly Kolb, VP of government affairs for the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said in an emailed statement to Retail Dive. “A long-lasting strike would ultimately impact thousands of jobs along America’s supply chain.”

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