The U.S. supply chain is backed up as ships are lined up to dock off the coast of California amid worker shortages and long-running debates on whether 24/7 operations are needed to break the backlog.
Many ports in Asia and Europe have operated around the clock for years, while the busiest port in America in Los Angeles shuts its port for hours per day and remains closed on Sundays, The Wall Street Journal reported.
"With the current work schedule you have two big ports operating at 60%-70% of their capacity," Hapag-Lloyd AG President Uffe Ostergaard told the Journal. "That's a huge operational disadvantage."
Businesses in America are trying to stock up on imported goods after delays and supply shortages during the pandemic, but the shipping port issues are making that increasingly difficult as tens of thousands of containers are stuck in Los Angeles and Long Beach, Calif., ports that carry 25% of the U.S. shipping load, according to the Journal.
With more than 60 ships waiting to dock as worker shortages cannot move the volume at the ports, shipping wait times are as long as three weeks, according to the report.
"It has been nearly impossible to get everyone on the same page toward 24/7 operations," Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka told the Journal, noting his hours will not increase into truckers or warehouse operators can boost theirs to handle the loads.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) blames the truckers shortage.
"Congestion won't be fixed until everyone steps up and does their part," the ILWU's Frank Ponce De Leon told the Journal. "The terminal operators have been underutilizing their option to hire us for the third shift."
Ultimately, it is more worker shortage that has caused the backlog than the looking to stock up on supplies, according to Quik Pick Express LLC CEO Tom Boyle.
"The biggest issue it probably comes down to is labor," Boyle, constantly looking for drivers, told the Journal.
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