Both sides (ILWU and PMA) finally agreed to Federal Mediation as they returned to the bargaining table yesterday. This is welcome news as both sides are far from an agreement. How long the contract dispute will continue remains anyone’s guess.
The on-the-ground situation continues to worse. As mentioned last week, the terminals have stopped calling night labor in Tacoma and Oakland. I have heard that Long Beach is also no longer employing night labor. For importers and exporters, this means that the delays at the ports will only worsen as night labor is essential for moving containers on and off vessels. The PMA is indicating that this is a necessary step as terminals are already congested. Moving more containers off vessels will only increase congestion. Regardless, this move will only further delay the entire shipping process.
At the same time, truckers continue to be in short supply as they continue to spend too much time waiting to pick up containers. We continue to do our best to try to get containers arranged before demurrage charges begin accumulating, but have not always been successful. At the port of Long Beach, one customer recently mentioned to me that they have containers that arrived on November 30th and December 5th that still have not been picked up yet!
We continue to ask that our partners be understanding as we do our best to help serve the shipping community in this incredibly challenging time.