The lack of a West Coast labor contract between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association could be dangerous and permanent. That’s according to the Agriculture Transportation Coalition.
Coalition Executive Director Peter Friedmann says, “Too many West Coast marine terminals are operating on reduced schedules, creating massive disruption.” Shippers are moving cargo from the West Coast to ports on the East Coast. Friedmann says that could be a permanent move. West Coast ports are essential to the competitiveness of U.S. agricultural exporters. U.S. agriculture’s largest international markets are in the Asia Pacific, and the most direct and fastest route is by truck or rail to the West Coast gateways. U.S. ag faces extremely competitive global sourcing competition, so it must be faster and less expensive than other exporters.
Friedmann adds, “If the import cargo and the ships carrying it is trending to U.S. East Coast ports and away from the West Coast, exporters have fewer vessel sailings.”