A dockworker labor shortage at the Port of Oakland is frustrating shippers and carriers, and is expected to continue into August, threatening the peak-shipping season.
This week the first of 400 new dockworkers are arriving at the Port of Oakland’s to address its need for more labor to handle a buildup of ships and cargo, port officials said. The goal is to speed up cargo operations and clear out the backlog of vessels that currently are anchored in San Francisco Bay.
Although the first of the 400 new workers are arriving this week, the others will be phased into the workforce gradually through September, according to the port.
In addition to adding new workers, The Pacific Maritime Association and the ILWU agreed to train and promote 100 current workers to expand the workforce that’s available to fill positions that require greater skill and experience, port officials said.
The additional workers are needed because the volume of cargo on container ships in Oakland has increased compared to last year’s total for three straight months and the number of vessels arriving in Oakland has also grown, with 10 ships a day often berthing at the port.
The labor shortage has lengthened the time ships spend loading and unloading by as much as a day and has also added time to the delivery of cargo at its final destination. Port management expects the cargo and vessel delays to ease by the end of July.
Shipping lines are already asking importers and exporters to be patient. In a July 1 advisory to its customers, a member of the G6 Alliance said the average number of container vessel work gangs being dispatched port-wide is approximately 11 or 12, compared to 20 gangs per day shift and 16 to 18 per night shift. The alliance is eliminating an Oakland call in one of its trans-Pacific services through the end of July because of the vessel delays.
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