We’re on to round 3 of the labor negotiations between the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) representing the East Coast and Gulf ports. The negotiations were first supposed to be completed by September 30, 2012. Both sides agreed to extend negotiations to December 29, 2012. When the two sides could not come to a full agreement towards the end of last year, they made an 11th hour agreement to further extend negotiations. We are now again running close to the 11th hour of the latest extension deadline (Feburary 6, 2013). We have less than a week.
I have not heard any positive or negative news, but this uncertainty is definitely unsettling.
Hoping we will have good news to share soon!
The port of Oakland (along with the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach) have made concerted attempts in the past few years to rein in pollution caused by trucks pulling containers from the ports. The California Air Resources Board is regulating the types of trucks, specifically the engines, that are allowed into the ports. As of the January 1, 2013, trucks with 2006 or older model engines are no longer allowed into the port terminals of Oakland. What surprised me was how many trucking companies seemed to be unprepared for this change.
We discovered in the past week a sudden drop in capacity of drivers. Rough estimates by various trucking companies estimate the drop in capacity by as much as 20%. This, combined with congestion at the terminals, has led to delays in getting containers out of the port. Some truckers are in the process of getting new trucks. Others are in the process of replacing their engines. Some drivers are opting to modify their engines to become compliant (a short-term solution). From talking to various trucking companies, they estimate that this process may take a few weeks to complete. I would not expect a resolution to this issue until after the Chinese New Year.
In the meantime, importers and exporters should plan ahead with the knowledge that they may not be able to get containers out of the ports as quickly as they have in the past. I would advise importers to be flexible with their receiving schedule and have a strong line of communication with their trucking companies.