Upcoming port labor talks may usher in more supply chain uncertainty

Date: Wednesday, May 11th, 2022
Source: Furniture Today

More than 22,000 West Coast dockworkers will see their labor contracts expire July 1, ushering in more supply chain uncertainty.

Talks between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Assn., scheduled to take place in San Francisco, threaten to disrupt the easing of the supply bottlenecks caused by the pandemic.

The backlog of cargo volume is down significantly at the Port of Los Angeles, with just 35 ships waiting to unload cargo at the end of last week, according to the port, down from 109 in January. But that progress may depend on contract negotiations taking place without hiccups.

“If anything further disrupts the supply chain, it will be devastating,” said Jim McKenna, president and CEO of the Pacific Maritime Assn., which represents the shipping companies.

According to the Wall Street Journal, lead negotiators on both sides are headed into the talks on good terms. But there are still signs that negotiations could go south.

A report surfaced last week from the PMA, which posited that terminals at Los Angeles and Long Beach that were more automated showed higher efficiency and lower greenhouse gas emissions over terminals less automated.

That got a negative response on Twitter from ILWU committeeman Frank Ponce De Leon, a speaker for union workers at the ports.

“It’s apparent that the report is a self-serving document by one party to a labor contract, and even worse is an insult to all workers who have seen their jobs outsourced to machines,” he said. “We haven’t seen an overall increase in productivity at the ports, just a shell game to mask the human cost of job destruction.”


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