According to the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, 507 California agriculture and forest product companies and organizations, over 150 from Los Angeles County, delivered a letter this morning to the California Congressional Delegation asking U.S. Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, along with U.S. Representatives from the State of California to step forward in an effort to urge the PMA and ILWU to resolve negotiations.
The slowdowns at the West Coast ports, now an eight-month-long debacle, are devastating California farms, processors and all related business which depend on California’s normally healthy agricultural sector, according to the release. Permanent job losses are a reality as foreign customers take their business elsewhere, to find other sources of “food, farm and fiber.”
The 507 signatories range from California farmers, California Chambers of Commerce and agricultural associations who, like the 600 farmers and agricultural interests in Oregon and Washington who sent similar letters, hope to compel the President and California representatives to take action, and heighten the urgency of the situation.
The letter’s introduction reads, “Your California constituent family farms, businesses and allied groups urgently express our grave concerns with the ongoing West Coast port labor dispute. The impacts of the slowdown of terminal activity at the Ports of Oakland, Long Beach and Los Angeles and other West Coast container ports are severe. It is having a devastating impact on our livelihoods and the rural communities we support.”
Continuing, the letter states that contributing factors to the congestion, including ships skipping calls and random lock-outs have forced the signatories to lay off employees, absorb financial losses and refrain from exporting this year’s crop.
While President Barack Obama sent Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to intervene in contract talks earlier this week and U.S. Sens. Feinstein and Boxer sent a joint letter today, the release reads, “[w]e appreciate the actions already taken by some of the delegation, and ask the entire California delegation to redouble efforts to find a way to get the West Coast ports operating again.”
To read the entire letter and to see the list of all 507 signatories, click here.