Assembly Commerce and Economic Development Committee Chair Albert Coutinho (D-Essex) on Friday urged both sides to work in good faith to reach an agreement to avoid a longshoremen’s strike that could cripple the region’s economy.
“I am extremely concerned about what appears to be an imminent strike on the ports of the eastern seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico. A strike at this time will cripple our still fragile economy. The economic losses will be in the billions leading to further job losses and higher unemployment.
“The port of New York and New Jersey alone supports 280,000 jobs and $48 billion of economic output for our region alone. Most people don’t quite understand what an incredible engine the ports are to our economy.
“Every container that doesn’t get unloaded will affect countless warehouse workers, truck drivers, retail clerks, and ultimately every consumer on the eastern seaboard. The very threat of a strike is already creating economic hardship as companies are flying their merchandise in for threat of a strike at significantly more expensive rates, in some cases 10 times as much. In the end, this cost will be passed on to consumers.
“I urge both sides to reach an agreement as soon as possible to avoid a strike, or at the minimum, agree to a 30 day extension to work out their differences. If an agreement is not reached by tomorrow, 15,000 longshoremen from Maine to Houston, including 3,250 here in our region, could go on strike Sunday morning.
“With our region still in the early stages of Hurricane Sandy recovery and our nation still recovering from the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression, we cannot afford a work stoppage. Everyone loses with a strike,” said Coutinho.