“We alerted them that agriculture and forest products, America’s largest and most important export, are in serious peril.”
I’m shocked that this information isn’t on the news – and other than those I’ve talked to about – or maybe some that have read my blog or Facebook posts – the general public has no idea what’s going on. And according to this update, the National Economic Council and the Department of Commerce didn’t know either. I’ve pasted the update from our Executive Director, Peter Friedmann, after he met with some White House leadership. (See end of blog)
Why is this? I’m trying to figure out why the general public doesn’t know or understand. Do I dare believe that the ILWU is so powerful that the media doesn’t dare tick them off? If you want to be shocked about something, read this: http://www.pmanet.org/the-ilwu-workforce. (I’ll be blogging on this subject in the future). In a nutshell: Full-time workers earn an average of $147,000 annually in wages, along with a non-wage benefits package costing more than $82,000 per active worker per year. You better believe they don’t want this information out when they are crying about fair compensation and being blue collar middle-class families. They also don’t want it to get out that they are trying to negotiate to NOT pay the taxes on their Cadillac health care plans. And of course they don’t want automation – to keep our ports competitive – because they want to keep these high paying jobs.
I feel like I’m beginning to sound like a doomsday-er. I truly don’t intend to! Only two things can happen at this point: the PMA can cave into the demands of the ILWU so that they get back to work and stop their negotiating tactics of port slow downs – this option makes it harder to compete on an international level… Or the situation hurts the economy so badly that our US Congress and/or President Obama needs to step in. It’s a lose-lose situation.
I realize that I need to write some background to the labor/contract dispute. I will try to do that soon. Hope this is enough to start getting the general public some knowledge into their economic limbo. I believe that the newspapers and TV will start covering this by the end of the week if this does not begin to improve. Until then, this is all I’ve got to help – one voice.
AgTC: White House Meeting Update
November 12, 2014
The AgTC and other industry groups met with White House leadership of the Domestic Policy Council, National Economic Council, and Department of Commerce to discuss the crippling port disruption on the West Coast. We alerted them that agriculture and forest products, America’s largest and most important export, are in serious peril.
There were a lot of aspects that the White House was completely unaware of– they didn’t know how much cargo is being left at the docks or is not able to be moved at all. We were very concerned at how little the White House knew about the situation at the West Coast ports and the impact on the nation’s economy. We made sure that they know now.
The White House said they were monitoring the situation, and we strongly emphasized that monitoring is insufficient. We urged the Administration to take firm action such as bringing in a federal mediator, as was the case in previous instances of labor-management disputes. We told them that we are weighing in with our Congressional delegations and that they will be hearing from Members of Congress.
In the meantime, we will continue to reach out to the press, because we believe the White House will respond immediately to the glare that is cast upon the White House by the press inquiries. We need to stimulate more of those press inquiries, and that is what we will continue to do.