In a recent article posted in December, we reported on our efforts urging the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) to make every attempt possible to reach an agreement on a new labor contract.

On February 2, 2013, the National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, issued a statement from President and CEO Matthew Shay on the tentative contract agreement between the ILA and the USMX, which covers dockworkers along 14 East and Gulf Coast containers ports:

“The retail industry, which supports one in every four U.S. jobs, is pleased to hear that the ILA and USMX have reached a tentative, long-term master contract. We urge the parties to quickly complete any outstanding negotiations, including local negotiations at each of the individual 14 ports, and quickly ratify the new labor agreement.

Shay added that “If the tentative agreement holds, the new labor contract will bring much-needed certainty and predictability to the supply chain for retailers, manufacturers, farmers and other industries that rely on the ports to move the nation’s commerce and trade. The new port labor contract, which covers container operations in each of the 14 East and Gulf Coast ports, from Maine to Texas, will help make these major ports more competitive and efficient.

“Throughout the process, NRF has stressed the vital economic importance of keeping the ports open to international trade and commerce. Our ports and the cargo that flows through them, be it automobiles or ottomans, are truly our economic lifeline to the world.

“We appreciate the leadership and outstanding public service of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service for their steadfast work with both sides – through thick and thin – since last September. Again, we are grateful for this announcement and reiterate our request that both sides move quickly to ratify the final master contract.”

As the world’s largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, NRF represents retailers of all types and sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad. Retailers operate more than 3.6 million U.S. establishments that support one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.5 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF’s Retail Means Jobs campaign emphasizes the economic importance of retail and encourages policymakers to support a Jobs, Innovation and Consumer Value Agenda aimed at boosting economic growth and job creation.