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The Los Angeles Times on reports that US president Obama has now despatched the country’s labour secretary, Tom Perez, to the west coast to apply some heavyweight political pressure on employers and unions to resolve the port congestion crisis gripping the region. What follows is interesting, with a slew of anecdotes from shippers and importers whose business flows are trapped. For an unexpectedly contrary view, this report says that claims the nation’s economy could be hamstrung by the cargo backlog are wide of the mark.

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  • John Hunter

    February 16, 2015 at 10:50 pm

    Is the related article serious? It says “…economists and trade experts said closings would have very little effect on the broader U.S. economy”. So why not just shut down the entire west coast and have done with the whole sorry mess, if ‘experts’ are so convinced the impact will be minimal?

    “…experts said those losses would be offset by greater demand at other ports or for airlines moving freight”. I thought the ILWU covered the entire west coast, not just Long Beach and LA, so what ‘other ports’? Surely not those on the east coast, on the opposite side of the nation to the main producers in China, Japan, Taiwan, Viet Nam etc? And will unionised workers in other ports take on the load and thereby undermine their fellow unionists in California? As for using airlines, words fail me.

    The article start by saying there will be little impact in closing ports but finishes with phrases such as “…the slowdown forced him to let go of more than 600 seasonal workers in recent weeks” and “My Valentine’s business was completely destroyed, and my Easter season is on the verge of being destroyed”. Little impact, huh?

    • Gavin van Marle

      February 17, 2015 at 10:00 am

      I quite agree. It seemed absolutely bonkers to me, which I thought it worth posting – it illustrates how little people outside the industry understand how it actually works, and much they rely on it, directly or indirectly.