As of today, September 11, 2012, there is still no contract for the longshoremen on the East and Gulf ports. I have read that Federal mediators are trying to restart the contract talks.
One lesson that we learned from the 2003 West Coast strike was that the longshoremen have another tool they can use (besides a strike) to show their displeasure. In previous cases of longshoremen discontent, they have initiated “slowdowns” at the port. We have seen this happen numerous times. The “slowdown” is framed through the rhetoric of following all safety rules. The result is a dramatic loss of efficiency at the ports. This applies both to the unloading of containers off vessels as well as making the containers available for pick up. Truckers have taken twice as long (or even longer) to pick up containers.
From news that we are receiving from truckers in New York this morning, we are already starting to see “slowdowns” take place at the very least at the ports in New York/New Jersey.