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Cargo dispute affects retailers.

LOS ANGELES -- A long-running dispute between the longshoremen's union here and shipowners led to a four-day suspension of cargo unloading over the President's Day holiday weekend.

The association of cargo carriers and terminal operators called for the West Coast work suspension as contract negotiations remained in a stalemate.

In response, the National Retail Federation (NRF) has asked the White House to help seek a settlement to the nine-month contract dispute.

"The continued intransigence by labor and management to reach a new contract is unacceptable," NRF said. "This stalemate is hurting American business, their employees and consumers." The dispute could cost retailers an estimated $7 billion this year.

The West Coast seaports--including ports in Los Angeles, Seattle and Oakland, Calif. --handle about half of all containers entering the United States. The contract stalemate has led to a backup off the coast of Los Angeles, where ships are waiting to enter the terminal, according to published reports. "Recent earnings reports make clear that port issues are already causing headwinds for retailers, and they're bracing for gales," said Kurt Salmon retail supply chain strategist Frank Layo. "Our clients who are able have already begun to shift shipments to East Coast ports, or upgrade them to hit delivery dates." Layo said he believes the steps retailers are taking are just "short-term solutions," and he expects to see continuing changes to the supply chain.

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Date:Feb 23, 2015
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