JACKSONVILLE, Fla - The contract between Florida's 15 deepwater ports, the International Longshoremen's Association and the United States Maritime Alliance is set to expire Saturday.
On Thursday, Florida Governor Rick Scott, along with leaders of Florida's ports, discussed the ongoing labor negotiations with those unions in an effort to avoid a strike.
The potential strike could create issues for the nearly 65,000 jobs impacted by the port in Northeast Florida, according to Chris Kauffmann, JAXPORT's Chief Operating Officer.
Despite that, JAXPORT is a landlord port, so Kauffmann said there would still be workers employed by outside companies operating there should the strike actually occur.
"Our role in this situation is to keep our unimpacted businesses running safely and efficiently and to monitor the situation again just to make sure everybody is safe," said JAXPORT spokesperson Nancy Rubin.
On the call, Governor Scott emphasized the impact shutting down the ports would have not only on Florida's economy, but that of the entire nation.
Other port officials, like Steve Cernak, the Chief Executive/Port Director for Port Everglades, pointed out that the largest ports in the state account for 60 ships that use ILA laborers, which Cernak said translated to 34,000 weekly cargo moves in the state of Florida alone.
Bill Johnson, Port Director for the Port of Miami, also noted that 90% of the goods Americans consume come through Florida's ports.
Governor Scott has asked President Obama to invoke the Taft-Hartley Act, to prevent a possible work stoppage.
In an Associated Press story, Obama spokesman Matt Lehrich says the White House is monitoring the situation closely and urges the parties to "continue their work at the negotiating table to get a deal done as quickly as possible."
First Coast News