Businesses Still Feeling Pressure From Port Dispute

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Despite port owners and union officials reaching a deal last month, businesses are still suffering from the aftereffects of a nine month long labor dispute that devastated the west coast.

The dispute began in May when the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) were unable to agree on a new labor contract. The inability to come to a deal and the resulting port congestion prompted economic problems in many industries. It wasn’t until pressure from the president and a visit from Labor Secretary Tom Perez on Feb. 20 that the two sides were able to reach an agreement.

Despite this however, retailers and other companies reliant on the ports are still suffering from the backlog of cargo and other problems the dispute caused. Jonathan Gold, the vice president of supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation (NRF), notes any company that imports or exports goods are feeling pressure.

“They all have lost significant cargo,” Gold told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “There have been additional costs, not just for retailers but anyone relying on the ports.”

Gold notes that some ports are even reporting that it could take 2 to 3 months before everything is back to normal. Additionally, though a deal was reached and port workers are operating under the new agreement, the two sides have yet to actually sign a contract.

“The parties agreed to a tentative agreement,” Gold noted. “However, they still have to ratify a new contract.”

Gold adds that just this week, one of the largest ports in Oakland had to shut down because of a labor dispute. Though it was a local incident, it still shows tensions are high.

As Michigan Live reports, the problems stretch across the country. Irwin Seating Co. of Grand Rapids is now having to keep a four week buffer in its timeline for products until at least the summer to cover the potential delays of parts or materials it need.  Additionally, the National Nail Corp in Wyoming has been impacted at its branches in Georgia and New York and Columbian Logistics Network is seeing more of its customers keeping products because they haven’t been able to move them overseas.

Local officials are doing what they can to help resolve the lingering problems. For instance, the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners unanimously approved extending a temporary container storage facility for an extra six months of operations.

“The action temporarily extends the life of the existing 30-acre storage depot that opened in December 2014, and also allows for the storage of loaded cargo containers and chassis in addition to the empty containers already permitted there,” a statement by the Port of Long Beach detailed.

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