Oh, by the way - longshoremen shut down 2 CA ports today

(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

This could potentially not be fatal, but certainly, it’s not good.

…All cargo is stopped and trucks are not being admitted to pickup or return containers and chassis. No activity on-dock or work being done on ships.


This has been simmering since last May, when talks began between union reps, ports, and the shipping industry. They stalled for months at a time, and the longshoremen have now been working without a contract for 10 months.

…Shipping industry and Biden administration officials had hoped the talks, which began in May, would conclude last fall. But, people familiar with the negotiations say the parties haven’t made progress since the summer on regional issues that are delaying discussion of major contract provisions, including wages and automation.

…The talks cover more than 22,000 dockworkers at 29 ports stretching from California to Washington state. Dockworkers have been working without a contract since the last multiyear agreement expired July 1, 2022, and the sides couldn’t agree on an extension.

But in recent weeks the pressure has been about to reach the boiling point.

Tensions in long-running contract talks at West Coast ports are worsening, with employers accusing unionized dockworkers of slowing cargo handling at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the nation’s busiest gateway for imported consumer goods.

The sharp rhetoric marks a shift from a longstanding agreement to maintain public silence on issues around the negotiations, which began last spring. The two sides appear to be no closer to bridging the gap on their disagreements, pointing to the possibility of deeper disruptions to U.S. trade flows.

The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents ocean carriers and port employers, said Monday that dockworkers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach had stopped staggering work shifts during mealtimes starting last Wednesday. The PMA said that has forced terminals to shut down every day for an hour in the afternoon and another hour at night, interruptions that have triggered “significant delays” in cargo operations and long backups of trucks at terminal gates.


I guess the shifts hit the fan last night and this morning? There weren’t enough bodies to get the job done.

A shortage of West Coast port workers has forced the busiest U.S. ocean trade gateway to shut on Friday, after months of strained labor negotiations between the dock workers union and their employers.

Workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach on Thursday began withholding labor, which was needed to load and unload cargo, as part of a coordinated action by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), according to the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents employers.

“The action by the union has effectively shut down the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach,” the PMA said in a statement.

There are already warnings of disruptions to orders and missed truck appointments going out, but this may not be quite the blow it would have been in years’ past. Thanks to both consolidation in the shipping industry and the adroitness shown by East Coast ports adapting to the reality of the COVID pandemic, CA ports just ain’t what they used to be as far as primacy. In fact, a labor action could shift even more cargo traffic to the East Coast, as those backlogs continue to clear, and the rail and trucking system has moved to accommodate the increased traffic from those ports to points west.


…Port disruptions come at a tough time for the nation’s largest port complex, which continues to lose market share as shippers shift volumes elsewhere to avoid potential disruption from ongoing negotiations. While union leaders and port employers had insisted no major disruption would result from the talks, a lack of an enforceable contract has led to smaller disputes and other limited disruptions over the past year.

“These actions undermine confidence in West Coast ports, and threaten to further accelerate the diversion of discretionary cargo to Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports. The health of the Southern California and state economy depend on the ability of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to stem this market share erosion,” the PMA said.

Constant labor disputes and longshore union slowdowns have also poisoned the well at West Coast ports, and this will do nothing to change that perception of instability.

Throw in CA’s insane environmental (my post on CA doing away with diesel trucks) and labor laws, and you have absolutely zero reason to deal with the hassle of shipping into a CA port if you don’t have to.

Screencap @skepticaliblog

In theory, the Biden administration would be working night and day to get this thing under wraps, or at least the Transportation secretary.

Pete Buttigieg
(AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Right. Forgot who we were talking about for a moment. Haven’t seen him in forever.

Well, maybe they’ll get this settled by the weekend on their own.

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