West Coast governors said today they welcome the involvement of U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez in the labor impasse that has disrupted West Coast shipping for months, and join him in continuing to push for an end to the dispute.
Perez met yesterday with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association. Perez said those talks were positive and productive, but while progress has been made, an immediate agreement is necessary to prevent any additional economic damage to the country.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee spoke with Perez by telephone Tuesday and told the secretary that the dispute has created significant economic hardship in Washington. The governor has spoken with numerous Washington businesses, from agriculture to major manufacturers, who say they’ve been hurt by the inability to freely move goods overseas.
“I told Secretary Perez how much I appreciated the attention that he and President Obama are giving this dispute, and that I hoped his direct engagement with the parties would help bring a swift resolution," Inslee said. “This impasse has dragged on way too long and is playing havoc with international trade, an essential component of Washington’s economy. I understand there are important issues at stake, but it is time to settle before any more damage is done.”
“This impasse is disrupting international trade and jeopardizing thousands of jobs,” said California Gov. Jerry Brown. “After nine months of bargaining, to be hung up on what appears to be arcane process issues is unacceptable. Get it done, guys.”
“Our local farmers, small businesses and communities in Oregon are in limbo because of the uncertainty surrounding the West Coast and Oregon ports,” said Oregon Gov. Kate Brown. “We urge all parties to rise above their differences and find a common solution to avoid the disruptions that are beginning to suppress our efforts to ensure a strong, growing economy across the state.”
Gov. Inslee has repeatedly called on both parties to reach a fair agreement and amicable settlement. In a letter to both sides last month, Inslee said he hoped a federal mediator’s involvement would lead to a resolution. “As you well know,” Inslee wrote, “Washington relies heavily on international trade, the competitiveness of the ports and the good paying jobs that keep freight moving.”