We didn’t think the situation at the West Coast Ports could get any worse than it already has. I have been warning our various partners that we are getting perilously close to a breaking point. Unfortunately, it looks like the terminal operators in Oakland have taken us one more step towards the precipice.
Here is a copy of a notice we received this evening from the Port of Oakland:
Dear Port of Oakland stakeholder:
This is a quick update on night operations at the Port of Oakland.The Port has learned that beginning this evening; the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) will not request longshore labor for night vessel operations until further notice. An exception will be made for Matson and Horizon lines vessels under the Jones Act.
The PMA will continue to request labor for yard operations to prepare marine terminals for container pick-ups and deliveries the following day, thus minimizing the impact on shippers, truckers and other Port stakeholders. The PMA said its decision is an outgrowth of ongoing labor issues related to contract negotiations with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
Port of Oakland
What does this mean? Night labor is essential in order for containers on vessels to be worked on and unloaded. If the PMA does not request longshore labor for night vessel operations, this means that it will take even longer for vessels to unload. We already are seeing a pile up of vessels at the Port of Oakland unseen since the lockout of 2002.
The decision by the PMA not to request longshore labor for night vessels is the equivalent of a “half-way” lockout. They are essentially saying that they are locking out longshoremen at night.
As I conduct further research, it seems like other ports have already begun experiencing similar “night time” lockouts. The port of Tacoma stopped calling for night shifts starting last week.
We can only hope that both sides can take a step back away from the precipice. Unfortunately, the two sides are not scheduled to meet again for negotiation until January 5th. We ask our partners to continue to brace themselves as conditions are likely to worsen.
tel: 650-873-9050 x1019