Ag groups urge Obama to intervene in port disruption

A coalition of U.S. agriculturalorganizations is urging President Barack Obama to intervene to stop the WestCoast port disruption, which is keeping U.S. agriculture products from beingexported.

A coalition of U.S. agricultural organizations is urging President Barack Obama to intervene to stop the West Coast port disruption, which is keeping U.S. agriculture products from being exported.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) have been engaged in protracted labor contract negotiations that are now contributing to a number of problems at ports on the West Coast, including congestion, slowdowns and terminal closures.

“We urge you to reach out to the ILWU and PMA to insist that they immediately restore the ports to full operation while they continue negotiations,” the group wrote in a letter to Obama. “We also ask you to use whatever means you have at your disposal, including bringing in a federal mediator to help resolve the contract negotiations.”

In the letter, the coalition also stated that if strikes occur, Obama should invoke the Taft-Hartley Act in order to keep exports moving and protect the U.S. economy. The Taft-Hartley Act is a federal law that restricts the activities and power of labor unions.

More than 60 organizations signed the letter, including the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council, U.S. Meat Export Federation, National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation, American Meat Institute, National Pork Producers Council, Indiana State Poultry Association, Meat Importers Council of America, Mississippi Poultry Association, National Oilseed Processors Association and North American Meat Association.

Copies of the letter were also sent to Senate Agriculture Committee leaders Debbie Stabenow and Thad Cochran, House Agriculture Committee leaders Frank Lucas and Collin Peterson, California Gov. Jerry Brown, Washington Gov. Kay Inslee and Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber.
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