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.
News / Global Logistics
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.
Nine containerships were among the 13 vessels waiting at anchor outside the adjacent ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Monday because of congestion in the harbour.
The highest number recorded by the Marine Exchange of Southern California since it started compiling congestion figures on October 16 was 14. That was on Sunday and included 11 containerships, with the number down by two yesterday.
Shipping containers are being delayed for up to three weeks, threatening timely holiday goods delivery to retailers, due to a dearth of transportation equipment and possible labor slowdowns at the the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
The delays are affecting retailers including JC Penney Co, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Nordstrom, American Eagle, Ralph Lauren and Carter’s, according to three people with inside knowledge of the situation. Retail giant Wal-Mart recently diverted 300 TEUs to Oakland to avoid the bottlenecks, one source said. Wal-Mart declined to comment.
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The congestion at Los Angeles and Long Beach ports has been going on for at least two months, but no one expected it to last this long, and no one anticipates an immediate fix – gridlocked docks possibly threatens holiday season. By Deborah Belgum
For nearly two weeks now, Ram Kundani has been waiting to receive seven cargo containers filled with tops, sweaters and dresses shipped from Bangladesh, China and Indonesia to the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. But some 10 days after their arrival, the containers on Oct. 21 were still stacked on container vessels as gridlocked docks made it difficult to unload the big metal boxes.
Around this time last year, Aeromax Inc. Chief Operating Officer Sean Schipper could count on getting his toy products shipped from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to his Lake Barrington, Ill., business in seven to 10 days.
But because of recent congestion at the twin ports, it’s taking twice as long — or in some cases three times as long — to get merchandise delivered to the toy wholesaler, which does nearly $5 million in annual gross sales selling children’s costumes and toys.