Supply-chain bottlenecks are still hampering the busiest port complex in the United States, Los Angeles and Long Beach in Southern California, which deal with 42% of all containerized trade with Asia.
As China has begun to ease its strict COVID-19 lockdown, these ports are contending with an influx of cargo of back-to-school and holiday goods, Bloomberg reported. Meanwhile, U.S. railroads and warehouses remain clogged, and thousands of dockworker contracts across the West Coast will expire this week.
The Port of Los Angeles has a backlog of rail-bound containers that's tripled since February, causing congestion, Bloomberg noted. On Monday, there were more than 28,000 rail-container units on the ground, about two-thirds of which had been waiting to be picked up for nine days or more, Bloomberg reported.
Further worsening the supply-chain situation in the United States, more than 115,000 rail workers operating at more than 30 railroads can strike as soon as July 18, after the union rejected a binding mediation offer from the National Mediation Board. President Joe Biden could appoint a presidential emergency board to resolve the dispute, Bloomberg reported.
More than half of the truck gates at the Port of Los Angeles are quiet, partly because of inconsistent staffing and operation hours at the terminals and distribution centers outside of the port, in addition to the lack of space at warehouses, Bloomberg reported.
Before the bottlenecks emerged, truckers could pick up containers in the early morning and then store them at truck yards until space opened up at warehouses. But these sites now contain empty containers and chassis.
In addition, the contract covering about 22,000 dockworkers across nearly 30 West Coast ports, including Los Angeles and Long Beach, will expire July 1. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents more than 70 employers, reinforced ahead of the expiration that “neither party is preparing for a strike or a lockout.” Talks often went beyond the expiration dates in previous negotiations, Bloomberg reported.
If both sides want to keep cargo moving throughout the process, this would avoid a repeat of the delays and congestion that hampered ports in California, Oregon, and Washington during the 2014 talks. At that time, a nine-month dispute caused disruptions and shipping delays, only ending after the Obama administration intervened in 2015, Bloomberg reported.
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