Wednesday, December 12, 2012

West Coast Port Strike Poses Major Threat to U.S. Toy Industry

On November 27, negotiations that have been ongoing since June 2010 broke down between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 63 Office Clerical Unit (OCU) and the Harbor Employers Association (HEA). Though negotiations continued through the weekend and into this week, the two sides have been unable to reach an agreement. Despite a local arbitrator's order to return to work, the job action has spread, shutting down 10 of the 14 terminals at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Together, the affected ports handle an estimated 39.5% of all U.S. imports; the strike is costing the U.S. economy an estimated one billion dollars per day. Even if the work stoppage were to end today, it would take several weeks to bring the supply chain back to normal.

Since the job action, ships have been backing up in the ports and putting a strain on storage in terminals. Ocean carriers have also begun diverting cargo to other ports on the Western seaboard, including those in Mexico and in Canada. However, the diverted cargo raises the possibility of strikes occurring at other U.S. ports as union chapters show solidarity with OCU.

TIA has sent a letter to the White House, calling for President Obama to intervene and take whatever action is necessary to facilitate negotiations and settle the dispute between OCU and HEA. The Association has also joined as a signatory with nearly 100 other organizations in asking the President to take immediate action.

TIA is calling upon its members and other stakeholders in the toy industry to join in taking action by reading TIA's letter and sending it to the appropriate Congressional Representative asking them to request the Obama Administration's immediate intervention to end the current port strike. Questions or comments may be directed to TIA's director of federal government affairs, Rebecca Mond (; 202-344-4554).

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Help your customers keep kids happy over the holidays

Keeping kids occupied over winter break can be quite the challenge for parents, especially once the holidays have come and gone. This holiday season, you can be sure children are entertained with activities that are not only fun and engaging, but also educational. Lilly Cueto, spokesperson for SoapTime, an action-packed hand soap that teaches children proper hand-washing habits while having fun, offers the following tips on how to provide children with an enjoyable, informative and healthy winter break. 

1. Learn Your Numbers: Young children are eager to practice skills they are learning in school, especially when mastering counting and math facts. Musical CDs of math facts and number rhymes encourage children to move their bodies and sing to catchy songs while they practice their counting. What could be better over the holidays than combining learning with dancing? For Math Facts Melodies and other educational, yet fun CDs visit They start at approximately $8. 

2. Learn About Health: Kids and germs go hand-in-hand, especially during the wintertime cold season. Washing your hands for 20 seconds is one of the best ways to prevent illness and the spreading of germs, says the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Now with SoapTime, keeping those little hands clean is more fun than ever. SoapTime consists of three uniquely shaped bottles: ABC, Earth and Elephant set in a SmartBase®, a battery-powered audio and visual system. Each bottle is recognized by the SmartBase and has a distinct educational theme that includes unique songs, factoids and LED light shows. SoapTime products give children of all ages an entertaining experience at the sink, while giving parents a tool for teaching healthy habits. They're also a great stocking stuffer.