The strike at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are officially over. Both sides came to an agreement late last night. Details of the agreement are not immediately known. One publication I have read indicates that the new contract will extend six years. The longshoremen are back at work this morning.
Here is a review of what importers can look forward to in the aftermath of the week long strike.
- Vessels that have arrived and stayed in Los Angeles and Long Beach will begin to be worked on this morning. I assume it will be on a first-in, first-out basis. I think it would be reasonable to expect that there will be some congestion at the terminals that may take a few weeks to get over.
- Truckers in Los Angeles and Long Beach will be busy working through the back log of containers that have arrived. Importers should work closely with truckers to prioritize deliveries.
- Importers with new bookings from overseas must double-check the vessel schedules as there is a strong possibility that carriers may no longer be on track with their prior posted schedules. The vessels that have stayed for a week at the Los Angeles / Long Beach ports may be at least a week behind their sailing schedule. As we saw from the 2002 port strike, carriers needed a few weeks to re-align their vessel schedules.
- For shipments diverted to other ports such as Oakland, Seattle, and Tacoma, Customs has provided the following instructions:
Vessel Diverted to Foreign Port and Discharged: When a vessel does not arrive in Long Beach and diverts to a foreign port of entry to discharge freight, all bills of lading and entries filed against those bills need to be deleted. New entries will be filed at the appropriate port of entry for merchandise entering the U.S. A new prior notice will be transmitted to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for shipments requiring prior notice. The Trade can submit a deletion list to the Long Beach Trade Interface Unit (TIU) and does not need to provide any additional documentation. Entries should be removed from the statement.
Vessels Diverted to Foreign Port Not Discharged: When the vessel is diverted to a foreign port of entry but not discharged, no change is needed to the bill of lading or entries. The arrival date for the vessel will reflect the date the ship returns to Long Beach to be offloaded
Everyone is breathing a sigh of relief now that the LA/Long Beach labor dispute is over. However we are not out of the woods yet. Everyone now must shift their eyes to the East Coast port contract negotiations. The deadline of December 29th is less than a month away. As reminded previously, all importers, even those with shipments only coming to the West Coast, should be concerned with these negotiations. The carriers have announced a Port Congestion Surcharge that would be implemented in case of a East Coast port strike.