Apparel and Footwear Industry Presses for East Coast and Gulf Coast Port Resolution

March 12, 2024 | WASHINGTON, D.C.
The American Apparel & Footwear Association sent a letter to President Joseph R. Biden today, urging the Administration to immediately engage with the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) to restart labor contract negotiations to prevent a disruption, or even the threat of disruption, to service in East and Gulf Coast ports.

The letter reiterates that the current contract expires on September 30, 2024, and covers 45,000 dockworkers across 36 ports from Texas to Maine. Negotiations stalled in March 2023 after only a few weeks of talks. Any work slowdown or stoppage leading up to or after expiration of the contract would have a devastating impact on American consumers, American workers, and the U.S. economy. This is of considerable concern.

More than half of all apparel/footwear/accessories move through U.S. East Coast ports. AAFA members are already experiencing significant supply chain challenges including those caused by the Panama Canal drought and Red Sea security crises. Any slowdown at the U.S. East Coast ports will cause significant delays, drive up costs, and further fuel inflation. East Coast disruption could also impair efforts to stem migratory pressures on our southern border. 

"Because so much of the trade with Central America comes through the East and Gulf Coast ports, any disruption would undermine that partnership, putting at risk the work we are doing in concert with the Vice President’s Call to Action," said AAFA president and CEO Steve Lamar.

This letter follows related advocacy for engagement in West Coast Port negotiations last year, and for the importance of safeguarding commerce via the Red Sea.