Sen. Cory GardnerCory GardnerProtecting the outdoors: Three cheers for America's best idea Ex-Sen. Cory Gardner joins lobbying firm Biden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program MORE (R-Colo.) is blaming a dockworkers’ union for a contentious labor dispute that led to a partial shutdown of 29 ports on the west coast, despite a recent agreement to end the cargo slowdown.
“While I’m glad that this slowdown is over, I’m concerned about the fact that it ever occurred at all,” Gardner said in a statement. “One union has irresponsibly held the American economy hostage. Colorado’s economy suffered needlessly because of this slowdown, and it’s my hope that this kind of reckless negotiation is never again allowed to impact the thousands of small business and middle class families that this dispute did.”
The labor standoff at West Coast ports began when the original contract between ports and dock workers was slated to expire in July.
Despite prolonged negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the two sides were only able to agree to temporary extensions until Friday's breakthough.
The long standoff led to cargo delays and ports that normally process 340 million tons of packages per year being forced to scale back operations, including a four-day closure over the President’s Day holiday weekend that riled retail groups.
Leaders of the port managers’ group and dockworkers’ union painted Friday’s deal to end the labor strife as a win-win for both sides.
“After more than nine months of negotiations, we are pleased to have reached an agreement that is good for workers and for the industry,” PMA President James McKenna and ILWU President Bob McEllrath said in a joint statement. “We are also pleased that our ports can now resume full operations.”
Gardner said he was happy a deal was reached, but still concerned about the economic cost of the prolonged labor fight.
“This slowdown had disastrous consequences for businesses, consumers, and the entire economy,” he said. “I’m glad that the ports will soon be operating at full speed, and look forward to the ports starting to address the massive backload that has built up over the past few months.”
Retail groups in Washington had predicted that a prolonged port shutdown would have cost the U.S. economy $2 billion per day.