West Coast labor dispute threatens commerce, supply chain at nation's busiest port

Operations mostly back to normal but delays widespread after weekend walkout

Labor disruptions at several ports along the West Coast caused concerns for potential shipping delays that began to clear up by the start of the week. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
Labor disruptions at several ports along the West Coast caused concerns for potential shipping delays that began to clear up by the start of the week. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

June 6 (UPI) -- Operations at multiple ports from Los Angeles to Seattle returned to normal Monday after a multi-state walkout that began late last week when unionized shipping employees in Oakland refused to show up for work.

The strike threatened to strangle commerce at the nation's busiest port -- the Port of Los Angeles -- which processes $440 billion in cargo per year even as a large portion of trade had transferred to the East Coast over the past year due to increasing labor issues.


The latest disruption caused a headache for ocean cargo deliveries, with incoming ships from China forced into irregular circling patterns in the Pacific as the worker dispute played out on shore.

Only one ocean cargo ship headed to Hawaii was expected to be delayed but was still scheduled to arrive in Honolulu on Thursday.

The walkout caught much of the industry off guard as it extended through the weekend before ports reopened for several hours Monday.


The strike disrupted the typically hot start of the peak shipping season in the United States and prompted the National Retail Federation to call on the Biden administration to step in and negotiate the growing dispute between labor unions and port officials.

Before the strike, supply chains along the West Coast were already struggling to return to pre-pandemic levels.

At least 52 Chinese shipping vessels were said to be making their way toward the Port of Los Angeles in a sign that shipping could soon be back to normal.

Truckers with ITS Logistics were halted at the gates of the Fenix Marine Services terminal at the Port of Los Angeles Monday, preventing the delivery of shipping containers owned by Maersk, COSCO and other corporate giants following several "extremely frustrating" encounters with port authority officials over the past several days.

By Tuesday, operations appeared to be fully running again, although wait times had increased at the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach, and even more so at the Port of Oakland as work shifts were reshuffled, according to CNBC.

A day earlier, the Long Beach port shut down the day shift of two of its six container terminals.


"Navigating the ports on the entire West Coast over the last four days has been extremely frustrating for us and our clients," said Paul Brashier, vice president of drayage and intermodal at ITS Logistics. "If it were not for updates from our drivers and our visibility software applications, we would not have even known about terminal closures Friday, throughout the weekend, and into today."

Brashier also accused the International Longshore and Warehouse Union of misleading the public in its announcements about ongoing talks to reach a new contract with port managers.

Brashier also said port officials didn't give the trucking company any heads up about the work stoppage and that he first heard of the lockdown from truckers who had been turned back earlier at Fenix Marine terminal.

However, the terminal did send out a prior communication to companies that alerted to forthcoming cancellations the complex.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Port's Pacific Container Terminal announced a plan to shutter its Tuesday dayside shift following a scheduled closure by the facility on Monday that was announced last week.

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