Over Easter, as talks between dockworkers on the US West Coast and their employers drag on, boosting concern of another nationwide supply-chain mess.
“Ever since the old contract failed to get renewed in the middle of 2022, the specter of labor disruptions on the US West Coast has been a constant risk factor,” Jensen, the head of Vespucci Maritime, wrote in a LinkedIn post. A shortage of West Coast port workers has forced the busiest U.S. ocean trade gateway to largely shut on Friday, after months of strained labor negotiations between the union dock workers and their employers. Several workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, including operators needed to load and unload cargo, did not report to work as of Thursday evening, April 6, according to the Pacific Maritime Association.
One of the hits the economy could have to absorb if the country's largest port complex closes due to a work interruption:
The National Association of Manufacturers released a report last year estimating the potential fallout at $500 million a day, with a hypothetical 15-day strike leading to 41,000 job losses. Now, the vessels aren’t coming as fast as they were a year ago, the backlog has been cleared, and many ships are bypassing Southern California and heading to the Gulf or East coasts to avoid exactly the kind of uncertainty unfolding around LA-Long Beach.
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. The ILWU and PMA have recently said they reached an agreement on key negotiation sticking points and were committed to resolving the contract matter expeditiously as the administration of President Joe Biden continued to meet with the groups to help facilitate a deal.