Thursday, December 27, 2012

Dock Strike May Be Knock Out Punch For Florida Economy

Florida Governor Asks Obama To Invoke Act To Prevent Work Stoppage

Today, Florida Governor Rick Scott held a press conference call with Florida port leaders to discuss the importance of Florida’s ports during the ongoing negotiations between the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) regarding their contract, which is set to expire Saturday, December 29th.

Governor Scott sent a letter to President Obama last week asking him to invoke the Taft-Hartley Act to prevent a possible work stoppage that could shut down ports if no agreement is reached between the two groups before the contract expires Saturday.

Scott said, " If a strike or a lockout occurs at that time, Florida’s largest ports could be shut down, sending shock waves through jobs all across our state – including truck driver jobs, manufacturing jobs, warehousing jobs – and many jobs beyond the ports themselves. A shut down of Florida ports is simply not an option for Florida families."

Former President Bush invoked the Taft-Hartly Act in 2002 to end a shutdown on the West Coast that disrupted supply chains nationwide and cost an estimated $1 billion a day. Florida port leaders think that a strike would be even worse than the West Coast strike of 2002 with more than $1 billion a day not going into the Florida economy.

Cargo-related activity at Florida seaports currently generates more than 550,000 direct and indirect jobs in Florida, and contributes approximately $66 billion in economic value to the economy.
About 60 ships use Florida four large commercial seaports consisting of about 34,000 cargo moves. What was described as a "knock out punch for the Florida economy" would result from a work stoppage at Florida ports.

The Port of Miami provides 180,000 job annually with 160,000 jobs related to container shipping and $18 billion to the economy. The Port provides the second largest amount of jobs in the South Florida area, according to Port Director Bill Johnson.

A strike or work stoppage would affect anything related to container shipping commodities and products at all ports in Florida but would not affect cruise shipping.

The participants at the press meeting included Governor Rick Scott, Bill Johnson, Port Director for Port Miami and Chairman of the Florida Ports Council Doug Wheeler, President for the Florida Ports Council Chris Kauffmann, COO of JAXPORT Steve Cernak, Port Director for Port Everglades Paul Anderson, Port Director for Port of Tampa Stan Payne, Port Director for Port Canaveral Manny Almira, Port Director for Port of Palm Beach Carlos Buqueras, Port Director for Port Manatee.

Photo: Port of Miami

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