Today, Governor 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 said, “We are together on this call today for one reason – we must help the Florida families whose jobs and livelihoods depend on our Florida ports. As we talk today, two groups – the International Longshoremen’s Association and the United States Maritime Alliance – continue to negotiate their contract that is set to expire Saturday, December 29th – a deadline that is quickly approaching. While we are encouraged that these groups continue to meet, we must bring attention to the fact that the livelihoods of thousands of Florida families hang in the balance if they do not reach an agreement by Saturday. If a strike or a lockout occurs at that time, Florida’s largest ports could be shut down, sending shockwaves 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.
“Our ports are such a vital part of our job market, we have made them a top investment priority during my administration. In the last three years, we invested $421 million in our ports to take advantage of the benefits of trade with Central and South America, and to prepare our state for the expansion of the Panama Canal and the potential for increased trade with Asia. In fact, I have personally visited some of these countries on trade missions to highlight the value of our Florida ports and the quality of our workforce.”
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. 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. That means more than $1 billion a day would not go into the economy to support Florida families.
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.
Bill Johnson, Port Director for Port Miami and Chairman of the Florida Ports Council said, “PortMiami contributes more than $18 billion annually to the South Florida economy. We remain hopeful that an agreement will be reached and a strike avoided. There are no “winners” in a strike. A disruption of cargo flow in and out of our ports would have a negative effect on the national economy and reverse any gains we have made in job growth this year. PortMiami, along with all Florida Ports, is working with Governor Scott’s office in asking that labor talks continue.”
Doug Wheeler, President of the Florida Ports Council said, “With more than 550,000 direct and indirect jobs and $66 billion in annual economic value tied to port activity into the state, we are hopeful that negotiations between the ILA and USMX will be productive and avert a possible strike. Halting even a fraction would not only negatively impact ports, but all Floridians, from truck driver to consumer, as well as jobs and goods along the entire supply chain.”
Chris Kauffmann, Chief Operating Officer of JAXPORT said, “JAXPORT supports more than 65 thousand jobs and generates $19 billion in annual economic impact for the North Florida region. While this potential action would impact a portion of the cargo handled at Jacksonville’s public seaport terminals, we are monitoring the situation closely as our main mission as a landlord port is to facilitate the safe and efficient movement of goods for all of our tenants. We are grateful for Governor Scott’s leadership on this issue and join our fellow Florida seaports in hoping for a swift resolution to this situation.”
Steve Cernak, Port Director for Port Everglades said, “Cargo business at Port Everglades contributes approximately $13.5 billion worth of business activity to Florida’s economy annually and supports nearly 150,000 jobs statewide. While only a portion of our cargo business will be affected by an ILA strike, we applaud Governor Scott for actively seeking federal intervention to prevent a strike and keep workers on the job.”
Paul Anderson, Port Director for Port of Tampa said, “The Port of Tampa handled about 35 million tons of cargo in Fiscal Year 2012, contributes an annual economic impact of almost $8 billion and supports almost 100,000 direct, indirect, induced or other related jobs in West Central Florida. Governor Scott has been a tireless advocate on behalf of the Florida port system and the Tampa Port Authority supports the Governor’s efforts urging prompt resolution of the new master agreement between the International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance, prior to the pending strike deadline.”
Stan Payne, Port Director for Port Canaveral said, “With Port Canaveral significantly growing its cargo business and the possibility of cruise business being affected by the ILA contract issues, we are hopeful that the negotiations will result in a quick resolution. We are thankful for Governor Scott’s actions in championing a resolution in order to prevent any disruption to Florida’s economy.”