Could strike at ports cost you money?

Retailers worry about shortages

TAMPA BAY - The deadline is looming for a massive strike at more than a dozen of the nation's ports. At midnight on Saturday, the International Longshoremen Association's contract with the United States Maritime Association runs out.

On Thursday, Governor Scott and several Florida port directors called on President Obama to intervene, saying a strike could take a multi-billion dollar toll on the U.S. economy. The National Retail Federation also believes a strike could cause serious shortages at stores for retailers. Countless products sold in the U.S. arrive through ports.

"It could be almost anything imported from anywhere in the world. Not only Asia, but Europe, South America," said Jim Alberdi of A.J. Arango, Inc. in Tampa. His company brokers import/export deals, many of which involve the Port of Tampa.

Alberdi gave an example of the cargo of just one ship he was expected at the port.

"Food products from the Mediterranean, granite for building purposes, furniture, scooters," he said.

A strike involving close to 15,000 workers at 14 different ports could cause major shortages at retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, and Home Depot.

Alberdi doesn't believe a strike would last long enough to raise the prices of goods, however.

"I don't really see price increases because it's just going to be a delay, not a total non-delivery of goods," he said.

The Tampa Port Authority released a statement on Thursday evening saying while there may some disruption of shipping if a strike were to occur, petroleum, fertiziler, steel, and cruise line activity would not be affected.

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