SFIA Presses for Intervention in West Coast Ports Contract Talks to Avoid More Disruptions

Washington, D.C. (March 21, 2023): Despite recent assurances that commerce would flow through west coast ports without labor disruptions, a new policy by dock workers has led to work slowdowns. As West Coast Port workers enter month 10 without a new contract, unions at Long Beach and Los Angeles have stopped staggering meal breaks. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) does not recognize PMA’s right to assign staggered meal breaks for workers as agreed to in the previous labor agreement since it expired last July.

The new dock worker meal policy has forced ports to shut down for an hour during lunch and dinner, resulting in avoidable back-ups at ports. With 40 percent of U.S. seaborne imports flowing through 29 west coast ports, this disruptive action could push more shipments away from west coast ports. Importers are reluctant to commit to west coast ports during protracted labor negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), representing ports and shippers, and the ILWU representing 22,000 dockworkers at 29 west coast ports. The two sides announced a tentative agreement on healthcare and other benefits in February but have made little progress since.

Slowdown tactics have been employed during previous labor talks to expedite negotiations on a new contract. Freight delays cost individual importers millions of dollars in increased expenses and lost sales. The current sticking points for a new contract center around the assignment of jobs and the use of automated handling equipment on the docks to increase efficiency and lower labor costs. 

With long-term shipping contracts typically finalized by mid-April, the timing of the slowdown coincides with a critical period for importers and retailers. The contracts will determine the volume of imports destined for U.S. ports on the West Coast, East Coast, and Gulf Coast. Many importers have already opted to rely more on East and Gulf Coast ports due to the uncertainty created by ongoing West Coast Labor talks. As more shipments are directed to alternative ports, market share at west coast ports has dropped, with a 43 percent decline in shipments to the Port of Los Angeles and a 32 percent drop at Long Beach year-over-year from February 2022.

Negotiations to resolve outstanding issues continue and quick resolution would avoid additional disruptions at west coast ports. SFIA has joined other business interests in a letter to President Biden, urging him to intervene in the talks to keep ports operating at full capacity during contract negotiations.

Click here to view the letter.

For more information or for questions, please contact Bill Sells, SVP, Government & Public Affairs, at [email protected].

Washington, D.C. (March 17, 2023): The U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) denied a request to eliminate Section 301 Tariffs on Friday, March 17, 2023. The plaintiffs argued the U.S. Trade Representative did not have the legal authority to impose and implement Section 301 Tariffs under the Trade Act, which authorizes tariffs equal to the amount of harm caused by the foreign country’s violations that impacted U.S. Commerce. USTR determined China’s intellectual property theft led to $50 billion in damages to U.S. businesses annually, but Section 301 Tariffs imposed resulted in more than $50 billion in tariffs for consumer goods on List 3 & 4A. 

In April 2022, the Court requested that USTR provide additional information on the decision-making process for products included on List 3 & 4A, including public comments and USTR responses.

The Court ruled that the U.S. Trade Representative adequately responded to the April 2022 remand order to validate more than $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports. CIT sustained the Final List 3 & 4A tariffs and the process for placing products on the Section 301 tariff list. This ruling will not end the legal action challenging the tariffs as plaintiffs plan to appeal the decision.

For more information or for questions, please contact Bill Sells, SVP, Government & Public Affairs, at [email protected].

WASHINGTON, DC (March 15, 2023) – The Personal Health Investment Today (PHIT) Act was re-introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives yesterday, Tuesday, March 14. Supported by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) and a broad coalition of sports, health, business, and community organizations, the PHIT Act allows pre-tax flexible and medical savings accounts to cover physical activity expenses, effectively reducing the out-of-pocket expenses for American families and individuals for youth sports fees, health club dues, training costs and much more.    

Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) are leading the Senate effort to pass PHIT and Congressmen Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA) are spearheading the House campaign. Senators Baldwin (D-WI), Capito (R-WV), Cramer (R-ND), King (I-ME), Marshall (R-KS), Scott (R-SC), Sinema (I-AZ), Tillis (R-NC), and Wicker (R-MS) joined in introducing PHIT. In the House, Congressmen Boyle (D-PA), Fitzpatrick (R-PA), LaHood (R-IL), and Sewell (D-AL) are original co-sponsors of this bipartisan bill.

“As a lifelong athlete and fitness enthusiast, I understand the value of and feel grateful to have access to gyms and fitness equipment,” said Sen. John Thune. “For some Americans, though, certain gym or athletic league membership costs can be prohibitive, keeping them from pursuing healthy habits like exercising or participating in other physical activities. By giving Americans greater flexibility with their HSAs and FSAs, we can empower people to make healthy choices, get active, and hopefully avoid the onset of costly chronic conditions.”

“Joining a local gym or signing your kids up for little league are great ways for families to get healthy and connect with their community, but those fees can be really expensive,” stated Senator Chris Murphy, “This bipartisan legislation would allow people to use their pre-tax medical accounts to cover those expenses. It is a smart investment that would help more Americans prioritize their health, lead active lives, and connect with others.”

“With families tightening their belts, gyms, youth sports leagues, and other exercise classes have become less and less affordable and accessible,” said Rep. Jimmy Panetta. “I am proud to reintroduce the PHIT Act alongside Rep. Kelly to provide financial incentives for families to really invest in physical activity for their kids and themselves. An active lifestyle is the best preventative medicine, and by encouraging these habits we can promote healthier communities.”

“As a former college football player and youth football coach myself, I have seen young Americans greatly improve their lives because they were able to join a team and play sports,” commented Rep. Mike Kelly “This bill gives kids, especially those in underserved or low-income communities, a real chance to play the sport of their choice. This isn’t just about athletics; it is about gaining critical team-building and character-building traits that stay with kids for the rest of their lives. I thank the National Football League, National Hockey League, National Basketball Association, and Major League Baseball for supporting our efforts.”

“Physical activity is key to preventing numerous diseases and fostering healthier lives and communities,” added Rep. Terri Sewell. “We in Congress must do what we can to ensure that America’s families are empowered with the tools they need to live healthy and active lifestyles. That is why I am proud to be co-leading this bipartisan legislation to make it easier for Americans to afford things like gym memberships and fitness equipment and participate in youth sports.”

The bill also has drawn support from a number of national governing bodies in the sports and fitness industry, including from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, and more.

“The National Football League is pleased to support the PHIT Act, which is sensible, bipartisan legislation that makes participation in youth sports and physical activity more accessible and affordable for more Americans. Encouraging youth to adopt active lifestyles and healthy habits has been a cornerstone of the league’s commitment to community, and the PHIT Act helps to further advance that important goal,” said Brendon Plack, NFL SVP of Public Policy and Government Affairs. “We look forward to working with the bill’s sponsors in Congress, as well as other stakeholders in the sports community, to move the bill across the goal line. Enacting the PHIT Act into law will mark a victory in the ongoing effort to promote and support healthy and active families across the country.”

“At the NHL, we believe that hockey is for everyone, and that is why we support efforts in Congress to advance the PHIT Act, which would help make sports more affordable for all who have a passion and love for the game, regardless of socio-economic status,” said Kim Davis, NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Social Impact, Growth Initiatives and Legislative Affairs. “Data consistently shows that participating in youth sports can lead to immediate and long-term physical, mental, and economic benefits for players, their families, and their communities. The PHIT Act would directly help countless American families access these invaluable sports opportunities.”

“Every child deserves the right to be healthy,” said Wayne Moss, Executive Director, National Council of Youth Sports. Youth sports is a fun pathway to healthy lifestyles and leads to positive physical, social, and emotional outcomes. Sports also serve as a protective factor for risky behavior. The PHIT Act will reduce participation barriers and allow more young people to participate. This bipartisan legislation will help mitigate the physical and mental health challenges created by COVID-19.”

“Americans, especially our children, need to be more active, and studies have shown that children who are physically active do better academically in school,” said Jon Butler, President of Pop Warner Little Scholars. “Being active is also a good means of enhancing mood elevation and self-esteem. Passing the PHIT Act to lower activity costs will help families with youth sports expenses to increase participation in sports.”

SFIA is a leading advocate on Capitol Hill for promoting physical activity in America and is committed to finding solutions to the cost, access, and other barriers to participation. SFIA believes physical activity is key to a healthy life and the U.S. needs to make it a bigger priority. The long-term benefits of a more active America will not only improve the health of our citizens but also contribute to the national priority of lowering overall healthcare costs.

“The pandemic gave us a new appreciation for the physical and mental health benefits of activity,” said Tom Cove, President & CEO, SFIA. “The PHIT Act is a common sense solution to allow more Americans to participate in sports, exercise, and recreate in the outdoors by making such activities more affordable and accessible. SFIA applauds Senators Thune and Murphy and Congressmen Kelly and Panetta for their strong commitment to improving the health of every American, and we pledge to work worth with our congressional champions to pass the PHIT Act.”

For questions regarding the PHIT Act, please contact Bill Sells, SVP, Government Relations & Public Affairs, at [email protected].

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ABOUT SFIA: The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA), the #1 source for sport and fitness research, is the leading global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products and fitness industry. SFIA seeks to promote sports and fitness participation, as well as industry vitality through research, thought leadership, public affairs, industry affairs, and member services. For more information, please visit sfia.org.

Washington, D.C. (February 23, 2023): After more than a year of negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and International Longshoreman & Warehouse Union (ILWU) issued a joint press release announcing they have reached a tentative agreement on health benefits and other elements of a new agreement. Pressure to reach a deal continues to build due to a decline in shipments to Los Angeles/Long Beach as shippers look to avoid potential labor disruptions to supply chains.       

Click here to view the press release with more information.

For more information or for questions, please contact Bill Sells, SVP, Government & Public Affairs, at [email protected].

Washington, D.C. (February 2, 2023): The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) is pleased to join the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, NLL, NWSL, WNBA, NCAA, national youth sports organizations, and the medical community in endorsing Senator Dick Durbin’s (D-IL) “Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act”.  The legislation establishes school policies to help prevent, diagnose, and treat concussed athletes and establishes return-to-play/return-to-classroom protocols to enhance student safety and ensure they are not disadvantaged in the classroom during recovery. 

Click here to view the press release from Senator Durbin with more information.

For more information or for questions, please contact Bill Sells, SVP, Government & Public Affairs, at [email protected].

SFIA is committed to lowering tariffs on industry products. The Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program allows for the duty-free entry of products made in more than 100 eligible countries. SFIA actively engaged in the successful effort to expand the GSP to include sports bags, backpacks, and equipment bags. SFIA and its members testified and submitted comments during the GSP expansion hearings, which led to the opening up this duty-free program to bags, allowing companies to avoid up to 17.9% tariffs on bags imported into the U.S. The GSP expired at the end of 2020 and Congress has failed to reauthorize it due to disputes on labor and environmental standards in GSP countries.

The GSP Coalition is seeking to increase pressure on Congress and looking for companies willing to share how the lapse of the GSP program has impacted their business and sourcing decisions. If you are interested in sharing your story, please click here for more information. Do not worry about the deadline for the article, the link will remain open indefinitely and the GSP Coalition can use examples on the impact of the program’s lapse to press for Congressional action.

For more information or for questions, please contact Bill Sells, SVP, Government & Public Affairs, at [email protected].

Washington, D.C. (January 17, 2023): The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) joined business interests in requesting the Biden Administration drop Section 301 tariffs on Chinese-made products entering the U.S. The letter to USTR Tai, signed by nearly 200 leading business organizations, highlights that the $165 billion in Section 301 tariffs collected to date has:
– Had little impact on IPR
– Has not brought manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.
– Harmed U.S. businesses, employees, and consumers
– Increased inflationary pressure in America
– Caused uncertainty for American businesses

The business community requests:
– An open comment period for businesses to provide insight on the impact of tariffs on their business
– USTR re-opens a fair and transparent Section 301 tariff exclusion process after the General Accountability Office (GAO) report found the initial exclusion process was unfair and fatally flawed.

SFIA is committed to lower tariffs to reduce Member costs and help consumers in a challenging economy. We will continue to support efforts to reduce/eliminate punitive tariffs of Chinese imports.

Click here to view the letter.

For more information or for questions, please contact Bill Sells, SVP, Government & Public Affairs, at [email protected].

Washington, D.C. (January 6, 2023): For three years, Customs & Border patrol has collected additional tariffs on Chinese-made products due to Section 301 Tariffs. At its peak, up to $300 billion dollars in Chinese imports were hit with 7%-25% in additional tariffs. A lawsuit was filed challenging the legality of the tariffs and USTR’s compliance with rules governing the exclusion review process. The Court of International Trade found the tariffs to be legal, but has indicated USTR did not comply with rules on exclusion reviews. If the final ruling goes against USTR, the government will likely appeal, but, if a decision holds, tariff refunds could be ordered.

Additional information on the status of this case and outlook can be found here.

SFIA was very pleased with the favorable comments from the courts on the lawsuit challenging the USTR compliance rules for the China tariff exclusion process. The legal proceedings will continue, and there could be a ruling this spring that USTR violated the exclusion rules and refunds ordered. Regardless of the decision, an appeal is expected, which would delay any refunds. SFIA supports the court challenge to the Section 301 Tariffs on Chinese-made goods and will report on any developments.

For more information or for questions, please contact Bill Sells, SVP, Government & Public Affairs, at [email protected].

Washington, D.C. (Dec 2, 2022): The American economy and fragile supply chains avoided a disaster today when President Biden signed H.J.Res. 100 into law this morning to implement a Tentative Agreement the rail unions negotiated back in September. There are 12 unions representing America’s rail network – eight unions approved the contract and four rejected it. The main sticking point was the failure to include a week of paid sick leave in the contract.

“This is a huge win for SFIA, U.S. Businesses, Consumers, and the American economy,” said Bill Sells, SVP, Government & Public Affairs, SFIA. “As our nation continues to recover from the pandemic economy and related supply chain challenges, a rail strike would have been devastating.”

The Unions were united and committed to honoring the picket lines of their fellow rail unions when the cooling off-periods expired on December 9, effectively shutting down the U.S. Rail system. A rail stoppage would have frozen almost 30 percent of U.S. cargo shipments by weight, freight would have been stranded in ports with no rail to move it out, ships would be stuck in harbors unable to unload due to overloaded ports, truckers would not receive loads, agriculture goods would rot, and workers would be laid off. It was estimated a rail shutdown would cost the U.S. economy cost $2 billion a day. 

SFIA and more than 400 groups representing American business interests sent a letter to Congress last week asking them to intervene under the Rail Labor Act and implement the Tentative Deal negotiated in September with the direct involvement of Labor Secretary Walsh. On Monday, the President met with the four Congressional Leaders from the House and Senate and requested they send him a bill to avert a rail strike. Congress acted with lightning quickness to pass a bipartisan bill in time to avoid any disruptions to the rail system.

Click here to read the full letter.

For more information or for questions, please contact Bill Sells, SVP, Government & Public Affairs, at [email protected].

Washington, D.C. (November 30, 2022): Despite being the “best friend the Unions ever had”, President Biden recognized the severe negative impact a rail strike would have on fragile supply chains and the economy at this critical time, and called the four top leaders in Congress to the White House to press for Congressional action under the Railway Labor Act to avoid a rail labor disruption. SFIA joined other business interests on a letter to Congressional leaders on Monday pressing for intervention to avoid a rail strike.

Today, with pressure from the White House, businesses, and industry, the House of Representatives passed an Emergency Resolution to implement the Tentative Agreement negotiated with rail unions and operators. The Resolution now will go to the Senate where it is expected to pass after debate. President Biden has indicated he will sign the Resolution to avoid a crippling nationwide rail strike as early as December 9th.

The labor contract was negotiated in September with the involvement of Labor Secretary Walsh to hammer out the final agreement. Eight of the 12 rail unions approved the contract, but four rejected it due to paid sick leave issues. All of the unions were prepared to strike in support of their fellow rail unions.

The rail strike being averted is good news for the already struggling supply chain.

Click here to read the full letter.

For more information or for questions, please contact Bill Sells, SVP, Government Relations & Public Affairs, at [email protected].

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