Get ready for what may be some shaky freight volume in the coming weeks; it looks like the massive Los Angeles and Long Beach ports may be shutting down until union workers can agree on a new contract. Clerical union workers have just voted against ratifying a contract that would have averted the ports shutting down once again.
Back on December 4th, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 Office Clerical Unit and the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Employers Association came to a tentative contract with the help of federal mediators that ended the 8-day strike that had brought one of the largest ports in the country to a grinding halt. Now the union has decided that the previously agreed-upon contract is unacceptable.
The union workers have been without contracts since 2010, though the issue didn’t garner any sort of national attention until they went on strike last year. If they decide to strike again, it is feared that other chapters of the union at other ports will join them, cutting the nation off from sea-based trade almost entirely. This will have an effect on not only the truckers who work in the immediate vicinity, but reduce the volume of freight being moved nationwide. This would not only mean fewer loads being shipped, but also result in a sharp decrease in the amount carriers both large and small can expect to earn from whatever loads they can find.
Jonathan Gold of the National Retail federation has said that coming to an agreement on the contracts is necessary not only for the stability of the port workers but also for all of the other industries that rely on the ports.
“The shutdown during the holiday shopping season was more than just a fight between labor and management – it threatened to impact consumers’ shopping plans at the most crucial time of the year,” said Gold. “We can’t afford to see another shutdown.”
Given that a huge portion of our economy relies on our ports to bring both raw and finished goods into the country, it is highly doubtful that the government will allow a nationwide shutdown. Due to their size however, even a strike of the Los Angeles/Long Beach ports would have a significant impact on trucking and the nation as a whole.
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