Reports from Bloomberg that the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are shut down today have come in as ILWU members withheld labor again this morning after effectively shutting down the port last night. The Pacific Maritime Association, the party representing the ocean carriers and terminals in contract negotiations, stated, “ILWU Local 13 withheld labor again for this morning’s shift. The action by the union has effectively shut down the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.”
Though the ILWU has not responded to requests for comments, the stoppage wasn’t contingent on any current issues. Considering the parties have been in talks since May 2022, it was likely only a matter of time before a stoppage occurred. A key sticking point has been the wild swings in traffic through the port during and after the pandemic. At one point, more than one hundred ships were queued off the coast waiting for service, driving some suppliers to divert their shipments to the east coast. This cost the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach market share that they have yet to recover, despite clearing that massive backlog of ships long ago.
Longshoremen and dock workers expressed concerns that negotiations have been dragged out longer than necessary as port officials stall until the market is more favorable. Accusations of those port officials being unwilling to consider the enormous amount of work and danger associated with the pandemic demand echo sharply. Including safety and social distancing issues, workers feel they stepped up when required and are owed improvements in return.
Obviously, this could be a calamity if the ports remain closed for any length of time. Still, until the union makes a statement, we can only speculate on how harrowing the situation will grow. We at Zarach will continue to update the story here as more information becomes available. Contact us today if you have questions or concerns about your west coast cargo.