Nineteen vessels backed up in San Francisco bay waiting to be berthed The Port of Oakland said today that volumes in January declined dramatically from the same period a year ago, as a nine-month contractual impasse between West Coast dockworkers and employers took a severe toll on business. Containerized imports dropped 39 percent year-over-year, while exports fell 26 percent. Total volume fell 32 percent, the port said. Port officials blamed the decline on the impact of the ongoing contract battle between the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU), which represents about 20,000 workers at 29 West Coast ports, and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), representing employers. PMA has accused the ILWU of conducting a deliberate work slowdown since late October by not making skilled crane drivers available to handle the boxes coming off the vessels. ILWU has said its members are ready to work, and blame the slowdown on irresponsible management moves, including scrubbing all vessel loading and unloading operations over the Presidentâ??s Day weekend. Both sides, which have been working without a contract since July 1, have returned to the bargaining table accompanied by U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez, who was dispatched to California by President Obama last weekend to facilitate negotiations. At Oakland, the nationâ??s fifth-busiest port, many import boxes are sitting aboard vessels that are still on the water; as of this morning, 19 vessels were on San Francisco Bay waiting to be berthed. Exports are piling up, and in some cases rotting, in warehouses because vessels canâ??t first be unloaded to even begin accepting export traffic. Importers are rerouting Asian-originating cargoes to ports along the U.S. East Coast, and into Canada and Mexico. As of last week, Oaklandâ??s biggest marine terminal was operating at 50 percent of the capacity, and its second largest at […]
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