We received the following memo from our American colleagues. It was published by the Agriculture Transport Coalition and does not sound very positive for the close future:
AgTC: West Coast – Shut-down Likely
February 3, 2015
Over the past month, there have been many rumors. We have refrained from spreading them, until we had something worth planning around. Nothing is certain, but this warrants immediate planning, to avoid cargo and containers getting stuck on the terminals.
While there has been no formal announcement, it now appears there will be
a shutdown of the terminals sometime starting by the end of this week, expanding over the weekend, to a complete lockout by the beginning of next week. Top officers of steamship lines and terminal operators met this week and reached the conclusion that a lockout is necessary. Unless there is a sudden change of heart by the ILWU as to their demands, exporters and importers should plan on ports shutting down up and down the West Coast by the end of this week.
It is possible that the ILWU will take some preemptive action – to be the ‘first’, but either way, shut-down is expected.
The other rumor, still being spread by people with old news:
A comprehensive West Coast agreement between the ILWU and PMA was imminent, because the chassis jurisdiction had been resolved. NOTE: that was the rumor, it’s not true. Under this supposed agreement the ILWU would have jurisdiction over maintenance and repair work of chassis, when conducted on the terminal. ( M & R conducted off the terminal would not be subject to union jurisdiction.) A serious practical problem with this agreement : it would give the ILWU the decision-making authority as to which chassis could leave the terminal and which chassis would be sent to the ILWU-run chassis repair facility. Over the past several months, many chassis in excellent condition had been “red tagged” by union checkers, and sent to the union repair facility. So truckers are very skeptical about such an arrangement, and the Los Angeles Harbor Truckers publicly announced its intention to sue both the PMA and ILWU if they would go through with such chassis arrangement. This chassis jurisdiction is important to understand, as it will continue to be a central issue in the ongoing terminal and longshore dispute.
A positive note (hard to find these days), is the engagement of elected representatives, on Capitol Hill and here, from Washington State: