What we are doing on West Coast ports

February 6, 2015

As the West Coast port negotiations drag on and congestion at the ports worsens daily, we are actively advocating for our members on a variety of platforms, and urging our elected officials to take action now.

  • Developed West Coast Port Primer to help AgTC members, government officials and the press understand the structure of ports, relationships, players, and issues of the current dispute. This Primer helps our members brief others in your companies who are less familiar with the dispute.
  • Briefings of the White House Domestic Policy Council, National Economic Council, and Department of Commerce. We have worked to elevate the White House awareness of the devastating economic impact.
  • With other organizations, pressed for and gained the appointment of a Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service mediator to try to bring the parties towards an agreement.
  • Briefings of the House of Representatives Education and Workforce Committee — what can be done so ports function dependably in the future.
  • AgTC gained Federal Maritime Commission intervention to discourage/prevent the ocean carriers from imposing Congestion Surcharges.
  • Pressing FMC to discourage/prevent ocean carriers from imposing per diem charges on containers. This is grossly unfair — the carriers know, even as they are unloading the containers, that terminal and gate congestion makes it impossible to return the container before per diem charges accrue. Carriers are profiting by the congestion, while their customers suffer great loss. FMC may take action soon.
  • Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation, Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security will hold a “Keeping Goods Moving,” US Senate hearing on the ports, February 10th. At least one of our members will testify. We are meeting again with Committee staff to brief them.
  • Briefing the House of Representatives and Senate Agriculture Committees with the objective of additional hearings.
  • Collaborating with other national and regional organizations to send a letter to the President urging him to invoke Taft-Hartley, which gives the President the authority, if he wishes to exercise it, to force the ILWU and the PMA back to the negotiation table and reopen the ports. We expect well over a hundred trade associations on this letter.
  • Constantly briefing the press, conducting Press Conferences, to elevate this issue in the newspapers, national and local television, and all other press. We provide our members with info, to help them brief local press, have provided access to members for the local and national press, who interview and feature them. This bright light is essential toward motivating the parties to resolve differences, and political leaders to intervene. Here are latest articles.
  • Creating state-specific mass letters from all ag and ag-related businesses directly and indirectly impacted by the WC port turmoil, to the Governors, Senators, Congresspersons of that state. We hope to have several hundred companies from that state, on each letter. We are distributing these letters to AgTC members to begin circulating today.
  • We are conducting Ag Shipper Workshops around the country, providing face face to face access, completely off the record, no press, with top ocean carrier and port executives. Insight into what is occurring and what solutions are possible. Atlanta, Fresno, Sacramento coming up.