US West Coast supply chain stakeholders are more confident than in prior negotiation cycles that upcoming talks between longshore workers and their employers won’t deteriorate into the type of tit-for-tat actions that have accompanied some prior contract negotiations. They point to rare — and what they say are hopeful — statements from leadership of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) as reasons for that optimism.
Talks between the ILWU and marine terminal employers are due to begin May 12 in San Francisco; the current contract expires July 1.
A work slowdown by the union or a lockout by employers would cripple the US supply chain, which is already contending with vessel backlogs, marine terminal congestion, and inland transportation bottlenecks.
As occurs early in every contract year, importers who are positioned to do so have been sending more of their shipments to the East Coast in the event of work slowdowns or stoppages on the West Coast following the July 1 expiry of the current deal.
Container ports in March were operating at, or near, record levels on the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. s