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Washington State To Hold Hearing Over Port Slowdowns

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A Washington state senator says he will be holding a hearing to figure out what is causing the West Coast port slowdowns.

Michael Baumgartner, a Republican, says he will be looking into the port slowdowns, which have caused economic and retail uncertainty since late October.

“The port slowdowns have had a terrible impact on small businesses,” Baumgartner told The Daily Caller News Foundation, adding he is particularly concerned about the Christmas tree growers, who rely on the holiday season.

Baumgartner plans to hold the hearing in January during the first week of the new legislative sessions. He will lead the state’s commerce and labor committee.

The slowdowns are the result of a fierce labor dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association, who have been stuck in the middle of negotiations for seven months.

On Monday, officials for the PMA announced they are calling for federal mediation to help with contract negotiations.

“After seven months of negotiations, we remain far apart on many issues,” Wade Gates, a spokesman for the Pacific Maritime Association, said in a statement provided to TheDCNF.

“At the same time, the union continues its slowdowns, walk-offs and other actions that are having impacts on shippers, truck drivers and other local workers – with no end in sight” Wade continued. “It is clear that the parties need outside assistance to bridge the substantial gap between us.”

Though the PMA has been accusing the ILWU of the slowdowns, officials for the union maintain they are not responsible and say port congestion has been occurring way before the current labor dispute.

“We emphasized our commitment to good-faith bargaining and the importance of ensuring that there were no disruptions or other actions that would cause shippers to lose confidence in the future of our ports” Wade concluded. “Unfortunately, the ILWU’s slowdowns are causing those concerns to grow, and it is clear we need outside intervention to allow us to reach consensus on the issues between us.”

ILWU informed TheDCNF that they plan to release a response tomorrow.

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Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of our original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.