Intentional labor slowdowns at the Port of Seattle have pushed management at the SSA Terminal to pull some dockworkers, or “fire” them, every day this week. 

The union workers are failing to make the 30-turn-an-hour mark, the standard productivity level set by terminals. This is slowing the processing of containers on vessels, which will then impact the delivery of the products, impacting the U.S. supply chain. 

In maritime terms, a terminal can “fire” a labor gang for one shift if it perceives the work to be slow; the workers can return the next day.

Across the waterway, the Port of Tacoma is not letting the gangs go. Instead, the port is limping at a 50% operation level. 

The labor strife along the West Coast is a result of a battle over wages amid contract discussions between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association.

Read more: West Coast dockworkers making $200K demand higher pay

According to MarineTraffic, the labor slowdown has impacted port efficiency so much that vessels are now at berth for more than double the time.

“The average wait times at USSEA over the past 2.5 months have been around 0.5 to 0.7 days,” explained Capt. Adil Ashiq, president of North America for MarineTraffic. “Now, the average turnaround times have been anywhere from 1.2 days to 2.2 days.”

Currently, three vessels are at berth, four are waiting at anchorage and four others are underway to Seattle within the next 12-15 days. The Pona has been docked since last Friday, the Maersk Cairo docked Saturday and the APL Le Havre docked Monday.

Ashiq warned this can impact a supply chain.

“With the current situation on labor negotiations, we can see that these containerships have now passed the ‘normal’ operational times we’ve been seeing for the last two and half months — nearly doubling — which signals that these vessels are stalled and unable to keep to schedule and continue to move cargo.”

On Wednesday, the National Association of Manufacturers issued a letter to President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, describing the current port conditions as “closed or significantly disrupted” up and down the West Coast, and asking the administration to step in.

“In June of last year, an NAM-led economic analysis found that a short-term shutdown of operations at the Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, the busiest on the West Coast, could result in the loss of more than $500 million of economic activity for every day of closure and put at risk more than 40,000 jobs. As we stated when those findings were released, any disruption would mean a devastating hit to our economy and to manufacturers’ workers and their families. This ongoing work stoppage will exacerbate inflation and lead to dramatic economic consequences across all industrial and consumer product sectors.”

Buttigieg and Gen. Stephen Lyons, the supply chain envoy to the Biden administration, have been engaged with parties for the past year-plus as negotiations have progressed and encouraged all parties to work in good faith to reach a deal.

The post Labor slowdowns hinder container processing at Pacific Northwest ports appeared first on FreightWaves.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply