Uncertainty in West Coast Port Labor Negotiations

On the June 30th the west coast ILWU longshore labor contract will expire. The contract with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) covers some 14,000 dockworkers at ports in California, Oregon, and Washington.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) informs it has urged maritime management and the union representing dockworkers along the U.S. West Coast ports to expedite pending contract negotiations and reach agreement on a new deal well in advance of the expiration.

There aren’t any expectations that the parties will commence negotiations early, and no expectations that a contract will be signed by the expiration date.   There is uncertainty that the negotiations will be done quickly without major disruption.  It is obvious that possible strikes, work stoppages, or work slowdowns will create disruption and congestion.

Steamship lines are filing their potential “congestion surcharges” with the FMC in preparation for such disruption, and the surcharges are in the range of $800 per 20 ft container and $1,000 per 40 foot container.   While this may not happen, RCL Agencies suggests to be prepared and to expect the additional costs.

RCL Agencies will continue to update you as the situation develops.