West Coast Port Congestion in 2015

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West Coast Port Congestion in 2015
West Coast Port Congestion in 2015

Unbeknownst to many people, but certainly known amongst shipping companies, is the fact that there have been various shipping delays in recent months that have been brought on by severe port congestion in certain West Coast ports in the United States. Part of the issue has been a dispute that has taken place between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), leading to no permanent contract in place between them.

This affects you because this means that, depending on the port in which your vehicle will be shipping from or arriving internationally, you might be experiencing significant delays.

A Lack of a Contract

There has been a lack of a contract since July when it originally expired, with both the ILWU and the PMA being in a dispute over a variety of issues. These issues are typical to that of a union dispute that can take place, including issues over pay, working conditions, scheduling, benefits, and so forth.

According to the ILWU, the increasing amount of shipping volume that they're dealing with is responsible for the shipping delays, but the PMA paints a different picture. They state that it is due to the union working purposely to cause these delays, including engaging in some walk-off practices, in order to place pressure on port officials and the shippers themselves.

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Which Ports Are Affected?

A myriad of ports in the West Coast have been affected, but the main ones are in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California. This is a major issue because both of these ports are the two busiest ports in the United States in terms of being container cargo hubs. Additional prominent ports that have been affected are in Oakland, California and in Seattle and Tacoma, Washington.

What's Being Done to End It?

Recently, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, known as the FMCS (www.fmcs.gov), has been trying to mediate and end the conflict. As an organization that was created in 1947 for the purposes of trying to end similar disputes, they have experience in dealing with these two organizations, having ended a dispute between them in 2002.

In solving over three-quarters of all disputes, having them on the case will be a good thing.

The Situation Now

The situation right now is not good. The United States' container terminals already had a reputation as not being very efficient before this. Now, their reputation has worsened considerably. There is a shortage of both workers and chassis availability, leading to the ports still fulfilling orders as far back as the end of December.

Many ships are simply docked in these ports, still having to be unloaded. These ships can be waiting for around two to three weeks in some cases.

So, if you're planning on shipping your vehicle overseas from one of these ports or are expecting an arrival, you should realize that the delay can be up to a month unless the situation is resolved immediately.

A-1 Auto Transport will do its best to try and work around this problem as much as possible, including the possibility of alternative routes!

Joe Webster
Written By:Joe Webster
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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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