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- Jonathan Gold
Contract negotiations between the International Longshore & Warehouse Union and waterfront employers on the West Coast will begin this spring at a time when the ports already are struggling to handle record cargo volumes. Naturally, shippers are concerned that if labor disruptions occur following the expiration of the current contract on July 1, West Coast ports could face total gridlock. That is what happened during the 2014-2015 coastwide contract negotiations. On the other hand, a scenario could develop similar to that in the 2008 negotiations, when a new contract was signed within weeks of the expiration of the previous contract. How are shippers managing their supply chains this year to protect themselves in the event of disruptions? With ships on all-water services from Asia to the East and Gulf coasts already fully booked, will importers with warehouses in those locations be able to secure capacity? Employers say that working closely with the ILWU in the dangerous COVID-19 environment the past two years has actually brought the two sides closer together, and some are encouraged that an agreement will be reached this summer. In this session, experts in retail and supply chain management will share their views about where we’re headed and how shippers should prepare.