Many of our clients are asking us this question: What contingency plans make sense to reduce the effects of a looming labor issue on the West Coast?
Considering that roughly 2/3’s of shippers polled by the Journal of Commerce plan to move at least a portion of West Coast cargo to East Coast ports, simply rerouting to the East Coast may not be a viable alternative. Since East Coast services are already experiencing heavy usage, it is not hard to imagine how quickly they will be overbooked for late June/early July arrivals. The ensuing congestion will no doubt cause delays, chassis shortages, and the possibility of additional charges for importers and exporters alike.
Our advice is therefore to avoid or reduce shipping cargo during this period. If this cannot be avoided, then hedge your bets with multiple services, thereby allowing some cargo to get through if the system comes to a grinding halt. This may mean some East Coast importers will want to look into our West Coast rail services to Syracuse and Buffalo, which may allow cargo to slide through unscathed.
US West Coast Labor Negotiations FAQ (Journal of Commerce)
Rich Roche is Vice President, International Transportation for Mohawk Global Logistics.