Congestion at the U.S. West Coast ports could take as much as two months to unwind, according to port and trade group officials, with retailers and other companies bracing for further shipment delays after the apparent resolution of a months-long labor dispute.
News / Industry News
Ports are coming back to life along the U.S. West Coast after dockworkers resolved a nine-month labor standoff, though the cargo backlog from ships waiting offshore may take eight weeks to clear.
The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore Warehouse Union (ILWU) announced a tentative agreement that must still be approved by the ILWU membership.
The deal, confirmed in a joint statement by the two sides, was reached after the U.S. labor secretary arrived in San Francisco this week to help broker negotiations that had dragged on for nine months between the shippers and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
Negotiators in the nine-month standoff at U.S. West Coast ports are ratcheting up discussions as Labor Secretary Tom Perez seeks to move talks to Washington if dockworkers and their employers can’t reach a resolution.
U.S. oil-company job cuts that cost machinery operator Drew Sanford his spot at Halliburton Co. are shaping up as a boon for truckers desperate for big-rig drivers.
Already equipped with a commercial license, the 30-year-old Sanford left North Dakota and landed at Oklahoma City-based Stevens Trucking Co. He is sometimes on the road as long as four days at a stretch, but the working conditions are good, he said, and “I’ll probably just stick here for a while.”
While good in theory, shippers say, the result would be impracticable, expensive, difficult to enforce, and might end up doing more harm than good.
“Even if the rules were legally sound and well-designed (which they are not), Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) cannot credibly assert that its proposed rules can be implemented with no costs or other adverse impacts to shippers and intermediaries, or to the transportation system of which the trucking industry is the most important part,” the National Shippers Strategic Transportation Council (NASSTRAC) said in comments to the agency.
The Longshoremen’s union is getting ready to do to LA/Long Beach what the UAW did to Detroit. By wrongly assuming that port operators can be extorted because the Pacific Ocean can’t be moved, the ILWU is badly overplaying its hand. Mediation from Washington may help settle things before they deteriorate into an open strike/lockout, but much of the damage is already done.
Supply Chain 247
The move by the Obama administration came after shippers vowed to prevent the loading and unloading of freight through Monday from container ships at the 29 ports, barring a settlement in talks with the dockworkers’ union.
Lawmakers from both parties are urging President Barack Obama to get involved in the labor dispute that has snarled ports on the West Coast for months.
Container ships are stacked up from Los Angeles to Seattle. And now: Port operators locked out workers Thursday, and they’ll do it again over the upcoming Presidents Day weekend.