- Two commissioners at the Federal Maritime Commission, Carl Bentzel and Daniel Maffei, wrote a letter to President Joe Biden last week calling on the administration to prioritize coronavirus vaccines for maritime workers.
- The letter notes that the International Longshoremen’s Association has reported 784 positive tests between March 2020 to Jan. 25, 2021, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association have reported 1,034 COVID-19 cases among maritime workers in California, Washington and Oregon during the same period.
- While vaccinations are being prioritized, the FMC Commissioners said the administration should provide rapid testing and personal protective equipment for the industry to help minimize disruption at cargo gateways.
The coronavirus has disrupted labor availability throughout the supply chain, and port workers are no exception.
"I am still concerned about the vaccine availability for port workers. There's been some reports of ... virus spiking issues in the ports of LA and Long Beach," Maffei said in an interview last week before the letter was sent.
As of Jan. 20, the Port of Los Angeles had about 1,800 workers off the job due to coronavirus either because they have coronavirus, are awaiting tests, are quarantining or are worried about working during a pandemic, according to The Los Angeles Times, which cited Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka.
Last week, the Los Angeles City Council voted to pass a resolution to prioritize vaccines for essential waterfront workers. The "maritime industry is fueled by the work of essential waterfront workers who have taken on extensive risks in order to ensure the continued flow of goods and materials through the Port," the resolution reads.
During the council meeting, Seroka said the port is ready for "a mass vaccination program here at the port," according to the Daily Breeze.
As workers deal with the threat of the coronavirus, the nation's ports have been facing a surge of import volume. The lack of labor to help move containers in port facilities has complicated congestion issues at some of these facilities.