Most retail holiday import goods have already made it to store shelves, according to Port of Los Angeles spokesman Philip Sanfield, since many shippers sent peak season inventory early to avoid possible labor disruptions at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
Both Southern California ports saw significant rises in cargo in the first several months of 2014, because customers feared a work stoppage at the ports that would strand shipments. They were worried that talks to replace the West Coast dockworker contract which expired July 1 might go awry, resulting in a strike or lockout.
According to data from INTTRA, the time between a ship docking and when a container from the ship is available for pickup more than doubled to about 80 hours at the port complex from September 2013 to September 2014. In recent weeks, about a 12 ships have sat at anchor waiting for a berth, according to data from the Marine Exchange of Southern California.
While both work pace and equipment shortages are a factor, retailers say most holiday goods are arriving safely through the ports. The restocking of “must-have” toys or other surprise bestsellers would be at greatest risk, they said.
The West Coast labor contract talks got rough in the fall when the Pacific Maritime Association, negotiating on behalf of employers, accused members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union of staging slowdowns to gain an edge in collective bargaining. The ILWU said delays were due to a lack of available truck chassis and larger ships with greater cargo volume that take longer to process.
The two parties sat down to continue contract talks on Tuesday, Dec. 2., after 12 days of smaller, breakout sessions. Reportedly, they just wrapped up another weekend of face-to-face negotiations on Sunday, Dec. 7.
>> Click here to read the entire article from Cargo Business News.