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The International Mass Retail Association (IMRA) called on the Bush Administration to take “whatever steps necessary” to get the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) back at the negotiating table and reopen 29 West Coast ports, which have been closed for a week in a labor dispute.

“We are extremely disappointed in the breakdown of these talks and the subsequent closing of ports along the West Coast. The effective shutdown of the ports is costing the U.S. economy $1 billion a day,” said IMRA President Robert J. Verdisco in his letter to President Bush as well as the Secretaries of Commerce, Labor, Transportation and the Treasury, and the U.S. Trade Representative.

“This shutdown is affecting every aspect of the U.S. economy,” Verdisco wrote. “This includes agricultural exports sitting on the docks, railroads sitting idle not accepting containers destined for export, the loss of drayage work at the ports, the depletion of just-in-time manufacturing inventories forcing assembly lines to shut down, and a threat to the availability of finished consumer products for the important Christmas holiday sales period.

“It is estimated that for each day the port is closed, it will take five days to clear the backup,” stated Mr. Verdisco. “That means that even if the situation were resolved today, it would take more than a month before the global supply chain would be back to normal.”
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