Southern California ports face drop in import volumes as labor talks drag on

More News Top Stories
Southern California ports face drop in import volumes as labor talks drag on

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach experienced 28% and 24% respective drops in import volumes during October, as importers avoid the West Coast amid unresolved labor talks, Courthouse News reports.

Cargo has shifted to ports on the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic seaboard because of the protracted labor negotiations between the longshore union and the terminal operators on the West Coast, Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of LA, said to the outlet.

The ports’ container terminals are only at 70% capacity now and LA is eager to ramp the cargo volume back up, according to Seroka.

Negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association, representing the terminal operators and ocean carriers, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, representing 15,500 registered dockworkers, started this past May but have not yielded a new contract.

"It all begins and ends right now with that labor contract. Once we get that done, it will give the confidence back to the market to start bringing cargo back this way," said Seroka.

Big retailers worried about a strike or lockout that could cripple their supply chains have brought in as much merchandise as they could to protect themselves against any shortages should the West Coast ports shut down.

Additional reasons for the big slowdown in imports last month, according to Seroka, include the fact that many importers brought in their merchandise for the holiday season earlier than normal this year and that U.S. consumers have cut back on buying big-ticket items. Concerns about a recession, inflation and higher interest rates also contributed to the lower cargo volume, Seroka said.

November and December will be soft as well, Seroka predicted.

Subscribe to our newsletter