The good news is that the ILWU Labour Union and the port management association PMA announced a deal which will end the slowdown at West Coast Ports.
A few months after the last contract expired in July, activity at the ports began to dramatically slow and the situation continued to deteriorate between the parties, including a temporary suspension of vessel operations over President’s Day weekend.
Trade experts said that it could be months before ports were operating at their normal pace. “There will be significant backlogs to clear, and everyone has a part to help restore confidence that the West Coast and the United States are open for business,” said Jay Timmons, President and CEO of the National Assn. of Manufacturers.
Even before the union was accused of slowing operations in November, the ports had struggled with delays for months. A truck trailer shortage and the increased reliance on massive container vessels contributed to the worst freight backlog in a decade at the San Pedro ports. At the Los Angeles port, a single ship now often carries 14,000 containers. Two years ago, a large ship would have held 8,000 to 10,000 of the steel boxes.
But for now, the anxiety that has shrouded the Southland seems to be lifting. For the first time since the employer group began cutting evening and late-night hours in early January, full shifts are expected to resume at the docks this weekend.
Unfortunately, the combination of the slow down in the West Coast ports together with the severe weather on the East Coast has caused a severe shortage of container equipment throughout the USA and reduced space availability on outbound vessels for export from the US, particularly for shipments to destinations on the Pacific trade lanes.
We are also expecting increased strain on rail and haulage resources as delayed inbound containers are released back in to the system.
We will continue to keep you posted on progress !