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Sunday, December 21, 2014
ILWU Port Slowdowns Behind Japanese Potato Crisis?
By Selected News Articles @ 12:37 AM :: 4036 Views :: Jones Act, Labor

NYT Dec 19, 2014: McDonald's Japan Rations French Fries

TOKYO — Complete with rationing and emergency airlifts, Japan has entered the great French fry shortage of 2014.

McDonald’s on Wednesday began limiting French fry servings at its 3,200 Japanese stores to the smallest of the usual three sizes, blaming a shortage of processed potatoes from the United States.

The problem has also affected other restaurant chains, as a dockworker dispute on the West Coast of the United States has reverberated across the Pacific Ocean....

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Negotiations Update

PMA Press Release 12/17/2014

San Francisco, CA (December 17, 2014) – The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) released today the following statement regarding the status of contract negotiations with the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU):

“Statements and rumors that our negotiations are ‘close’ to a final contract are not true. Even after seven months of negotiations, we remain far apart on several issues, and the union slowdowns continue to disrupt the movement of cargo through the ports. Business is being lost, and we are concerned that the damage is permanent and shippers will be fearful to put their trust in the West Coast ports going forward.”

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ILWU: ILWU Longshore & Shipping News  -- "Sides ‘far apart’ in West Coast port negotiations"

Politico: Are West Coast longshoremen spoiling Christmas?  “It used to take cargo two to three days to get out of the ports. Now it’s taking seven to ten days, and that has an impact.”

TS: ILWU frustrated by shippers’ finger-pointing over port delays

Journal of Commerce: Amid discord, ILWU, PMA to restart direct talks

American Shipper Magazine: West Coast dockworkers and employers remain 'far apart'

The PMA and ILWU made their statements as the American Association of Port Authorities sent a letter to President Barack Obama urging him to "take the necessary steps to assign federal mediators to help resolve the ongoing contract negotiations."

Kurt Nagle, AAPA president and chief executive officer, said, “America’s seaports are absolutely vital to our economy, jobs and international competitiveness. At this tender stage of the economic recovery, our nation simply cannot afford disruptions, let alone a shutdown, of any part of the ports system. After seven months of labor negotiations without an agreement being reached, we believe that federal mediation is now necessary to prevent the significant economic repercussions that can occur whenever there is uncertainty and unpredictability in the movement of international commerce through our ports.”

Previous calls for federal mediation have come from the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Retail Federation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others.

On Monday, Rep. Bill Shuster, the Republican chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, asked Obama to do whatever he could to move the talks along, although Shuster didn’t mention any specific action be taken.

McDonald's said it is only selling "small" portions of fries in Japan, citing the labor negotiations at West Coast ports as creating difficulty in getting regular deliveries of potatoes.  Reuters also reported that the company is shipping some frozen potatoes by air....

 

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