Contract negotiations between the International Longshoremen’s Association and the United States Maritime Alliance have been extended through Dec. 29. The extension averted the threat of a strike at the original Sept. 30 expiration. The ILA-USMX coastwide master contract affects approximately 15,000 longshore workers on the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. The master contract covers containerized and roll-on, roll-off cargo in 14 port areas.
The ILA has not had a coast-wide strike since 1977. However, cargo interests were concerned about this year’s negotiations, the first under ILA President Harold Daggett. The 2002 lockout of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union during the ILWU’s contract negotiations caused many shippers to diversify their supply chains to include East and Gulf coast routings. When ILA negotiations broke down during the summer, there were signs that some cargo might shift back to the West Coast. As the Sept. 30 expiration approached, some shippers implemented contingency plans by accelerating shipments or diverting some cargoes to the West Coast or Canadian ports.
We were interested in seeing how much cargo would be affected should the ILA strike happen. Using the PIERS database of U.S. import and export activity, we were able to track waterborne trade activity at each port in 2011. The numbers were staggering; ports such as New York and Savannah handle well over 1,000,000 TEUs each year…in both directions. The Top 10 ILA East and Gulf Coast ports totaled – 13,546,689 TEUs of imports and exports that passed through these seaports in 2011. That’s 1,100 New Panamax sized ships! Visit the JOC.com for continued up-to-date coverage of the ILA-USMX negotiations.
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