The situation between the PMA and the ILWU has reached, what many consider, to be the breaking point.
After working more than nine months without a contract, the PMA this week announced that they do not plan to order longshore labor for four of the next five days, including today. By not ordering labor at the expensive weekend and holiday rates for Lincoln’s Birthday (today), the weekend and President’s Day (Monday), they are sending a clear signal to the ILWU that their last offer is their last offer.
To the credit of both sides, they kept it out of the press for far longer than anyone figured they would. But with the PMA claiming work slowdowns and citing figures of the number of lifts per hour on average and documenting how those lifts have declined, they are making their point to the trade.
There has also been no shortage of pressure on both sides, as well as the White House and Congress, to bring this stalemate to an end. Agricultural exporters are losing opportunities and experiencing spoilage, railroads are seeing declines in productivity for both intermodal and carload traffic and truckers have declared force majeure because they are facing thousands of dollars in charges for the late return of containers and chassises.
The only people to have seen a boon to this point are airlines who have pointed to stronger than expected loadings because companies who have relied on sea freight for their supply chains have resorted to the far-more-expensive alternative to ensure the on-time delivery of products for holidays or J.I.T. clients.
We have also seen rates for East Coast discharging cargo on the rise, with one trade publication claiming that some rates from the Far East on all water services have reached as high as five thousand dollars for a 40′ container.
We want to thank you for your patience and understanding as we do everything in our power to move your cargo to and from the United States given the situation on the West Coast. We will continue to use our years of experience to make sure that we use every avenue at our disposal to keep delays and problems to the utmost minimum.