The American Meat Institute (AMI) Wednesday joined a coalition of meat and poultry industry groups urging President Barack Obama to intervene and prevent a strike at container ports from Maine to Texas. The current labor contract between the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and the U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX) is set to expire on Dec. 29. The two sides have been negotiating a new contract since April with little progress, according to AMI.

The letter states, “A strike of any kind at ports along the East and Gulf Coast could prove devastating for the U.S. economy, particularly considering the economic setback suffered by the ports, especially the Port of New York/New Jersey, as a result of super storm Sandy. We call upon you to use all means necessary, including Taft-Hartley, to keep the two sides at the negotiating table and head off a coast-wide strike.”

U.S. exports of beef, pork, poultry and lamb products surpassed $16 billion in 2011, and the meat processing industry employs over 500,000 people.

Members of the coalition sent a similar letter earlier this month urging the resolution of the strike at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. A deal there was reached after eight days. The full impact of that strike is still being calculated, but economists estimated that a 10-day lockout of West Coast ports in 2002 cost the U.S. economy $1 billion for each day of the lockout.

The full coalition letter is available here:

http://www.meatami.com/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/83640.