Crippling cargo backups at U.S. West Coast ports dragged on into a third month amid industry reports on Thursday of prolonged shipment delays for goods ranging from yoga apparel and rice to NBA bobblehead collectibles and frozen french fries.
News / Ocean Market
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.
When the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) convenes a caucus in San Francisco next week, contract negotiations with the Pacific Maritime Association may finally draw to a close. According to labor/management analysts, a tentative agreement could be worked out by the 100 caucus members, and then presented to the union for approval.
MIQ Logistics has received notices from multiple ocean carriers stating that the port congestion surcharge (PCS) scheduled to go into effect today, November 26th, has been postponed until further notice. The postponed surcharge would have affected cargo entering the U.S. via U.S. West Coast ports or Canadian Gateway ports.
While the ongoing labor negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) ostensibly going from bad to worse, following the ILWU’s announcement late last week that it was halting negotiations from November 20 through November 30, a Congressional group last week penned a letter to PMA and ILWU leadership expressing concern over the state of the negotiations. The PMA and ILWU contract expired on July 1, and talks between the PMA and ILWU have been ongoing since May 12.
As we have chronicled here in recent days, U.S. agricultural shippers are demanding that a solution to the West Coast dockside labor problem be made a national priority. They argue – and quite rightly from our point of view – that the lack of progress in contract talks between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) threaten the President’s own National Export Initiative.
The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) today issued the following update regarding continued union slowdowns and work actions at the major West Coast ports. The union actions are tied to the ongoing negotiations for a new coast-wide labor contract. Negotiations began in May for the contract that expired July 1, and talks have been occurring almost constantly for the past six months.
More than 40 percent of the goods that come into the United States from overseas come through the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. That fact alone gives thousands of truck drivers who haul those goods from the ports to warehouses considerable leverage with big companies (like Walmart, Cosco, and Home Depot) whose goods are mostly made in Asia as well as with the shipping companies, the municipal Harbor Commission which oversees the port, and the trucking companies who employ the drivers.
For months, contract negotiations between a powerful union and multinational shipping lines progressed amicably in public, even though roughly 20,000 West Coast dockworkers labored without a contract.
Now the public harmony has been shattered, raising fears that a strike or lockout could close ports up and down the coast and cause economic pain.