(Orlando, Fla. — WMFE) Florida port directors held a conference call with Governor Rick Scott Thursday to warn about the impact of a looming dockworkers strike. The dockworkers union is prepared to strike unless there's agreement on a new contract before Saturday night, when an extension on the old contract expires.
A strike by International Longshoremen's Association dockworkers would disrupt the movement of container cargo from about 60 ships a week at Florida ports.
Port Miami director Bill Johnson says a dockworkers' strike would also affect thousands of other jobs. “It isn’t just six thousand people working on my port today, it’s tens of thousands of people working in South Florida and throughout the state," he said. "It isn’t just Miami impacted as a port, it’s Orlando, it’s Cleveland, Ohio. I mean this is an impact nationwide.”
Port Canaveral’s director Stan Payne said disruption to the transportation supply chain would reach far inland. "Our entire transportation structure in which billions of dollars has been invested, (will) simply cease to function," he said, "at huge cost to our economy and the jobs."
Florida’s 15 deepwater ports account for about 550,000 jobs and generate $66 billion dollars in economic activity.
Governor Scott has asked President Barack Obama to use a federal law-- the Taft-Hartley Act-- to stop the strike if a deal isn’t reached by the Saturday deadline.
The dockworker's union, the International Longshoremen’s Association, is continuing bargaining talks with the US Maritime Alliance, which represents the ports and shippers.