A report recently released by the National Retail Federation (NRF) predicts cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports will rise eight percent this month over last month as major West Coast ports continue to recover from backlogs associated with a major labor dispute.
“Progress is being made but there’s still a lot of cargo waiting to be loaded onto trucks and trains and moved across the country even after it’s unloaded from the ships,” said NRF’s Jonathan Gold. “The situation is getting better but we’re still far from normal.”
The Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union tentatively agreed on a five-year contract in February. While ILWU leadership has recommended that members vote for ratification, votes won’t be counted until May 22. The lack of a contract and operational issues led to crisis-level congestion at the ports after the previous agreement expired last July, and issues were not resolved until a federal mediator and Labor Secretary Tom Perez joined the talks.
“The disruption on the West Coast appears to be over and great measures are being taken to clear the backlog of ships sitting offshore,” said Ben Hackett of Hackett Associates. “Of course, all those ships being discharged are causing landside issues as workers try to get containers out of the terminal gates and onto trucks and rail.”
Global Port Tracker, which is produced for NRF by Hackett Associates, covers the U.S. ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle and Tacoma on the West Coast; New York/New Jersey, Hampton Roads, Charleston, Savannah, Port Everglades and Miami on the East Coast, and Houston on the Gulf Coast.