Potential U.S. East Coast strike raises concerns for shippers
The International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) has threatened a strike if an agreement is not reached with the U.S. Maritime Alliance (USMX) by the time their contract expires on Sep. 30.
Talks stalled on Aug. 22 because the two parties could not agree on several issues, including USMX’s insistence on productivity and efficiency improvements.
Discussions will start again in the week of Sep. 17, but OHL International global marketing manager Daniel Cooke told www.freshfruitportal.com the uncertainty would still have a significant impact on anyone shipping to the region.
“It’s going to be really down to the wire and it’s not a great situation at all,” said Cooke.
“In about nine days time, sometime during that week they will get back together, but the downside of that is even if that all goes well, our customers are really looking for answers now.
“With the time it takes to ship something from Asia to the U.S., if it was to leave now it would be coming into the U.S. on the week of Oct. 1 and could be affected by the strike, if there was a strike to go ahead.
“It’s tough for our customers because they’ve really got to start thinking right now, do we bite the bullet and start using alternative methods – whether it be air freight, or channeling through the West Coast – or do we cross our fingers and hope for the best, and leave shipments on boats that are due to call in to East and Gulf Coast ports?”