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.
News / Ocean Market
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.
“Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to slow down this month following record levels seen in September and October as retailers rushed to bring merchandise into the country ahead of a possible shutdown of West Coast ports, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.”
Strong cargo volumes continued into early November at the Port of Long Beach, resulting in delays due to a shortage of truck trailers, but underscoring this year’s rebound in international trade and pointing to an economic upswing.
On Thursday, November 6th, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) released a press release accusing the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) of now targeting the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The PMA indicates in their statement that since Monday November 3rd, the ILWU has been “refusing to dispatch hundreds of qualified, skilled workers for critically important positions transporting containers in terminal yards at the nations’s largest port complex.”
As contract negotiations resume today between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), a war of words and allegations has escalated in the trade press. In a statement released this morning, the ILWU said the PMA “dishonestly” accuses the union of breaking a spoken agreement that port operations would continue under the auspices of a temporary contract extension.
U.S. retailers appealed to PresidentBarack Obama to intervene in contract negotiations between West Coast dockworkers and maritime companies after a work slowdown spread to the nation’s largest container hub ahead of theholiday shopping season.
The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, asked Obama to step in and ensure that tensions between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association, representing terminal operators and shipping lines, don’t “escalate to a complete shutdown of West Coast ports.”
A work slowdown at the Pacific Northwest’s two largest ports Wednesday began affecting businesses as distant as Chicago as major port terminals stopped accepting export cargoes and cut the pace of imports by half. Fruit growers in Eastern Washington, retailers and exporters in the Midwest were among those who felt the effects Wednesday of the labor dispute between union longshore workers and their employers at the ports of Tacoma and Seattle.
On Monday, November 3rd, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) released a statement accusing the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) of “orchestrating slowdowns at the Pacific Northwest ports of Seattle and Tacoma”.
The International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) has initiated orchestrated slowdowns at the Pacific Northwest ports of Seattle and Tacoma, severely impacting many of the largest terminals during the peak holiday shipping season. The two ports handle an estimated 16% of containerized cargo on the West Coast.
The work actions come as the ILWU and its employer group counterpart, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), are in the sixth month of negotiations for a new contract covering nearly 13,600 workers at 29 ports along the West Coast, from California to Washington. Initially, the PMA and ILWU set a goal of reaching a new agreement in July.