The nation’s largest port gateway has returned to full operations, ending a disruption that limited the movement of goods at terminals after not enough longshore workers reported to the job late last week.
The Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach saw several terminals close on Thursday evening and Friday morning due to a lack of workers.
The local chapter of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents dockworkers, said in a statement the Thursday disruption was due to a scheduled monthly chapter meeting, whereas on Friday many union members took the day off for religious reasons.
The disruption ended by Friday evening, when workers were dispatched to terminals at the two ports for the day’s second shift, according to the Long Beach Business Journal.
The Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach confirmed terminals reopened starting Friday evening and were open on Saturday. However, some terminals had limited operations over the weekend and many were also closed to trucks on Sunday due to Easter, as is typical, terminal websites show.
By Monday, both ports had resumed mostly normal operations, according to port officials. Los Angeles Port Police Lt. Mark Oliver said at Los Angeles, only West Basin Container Terminal had modified operations for the day, meaning the terminal is not accepting trucks until the afternoon.
Many terminals similarly modified their operations over the weekend, limiting access to truck gates. As a result, while terminal disruptions were limited, shippers and truckers relying on the ports may see some ripple effects.
“If your container was scheduled to be pulled last night, today, or over the weekend, expect delays in pulling the container. If your empty has not yet returned, expect delayed empty returns and unfortunately additional charges,” Ian Weiland, chief operating officer at Junction Collaborative Transports, said in a LinkedIn post Friday.
Several trade associations representing shippers decried the port disruptions in statements Friday.
One member of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition had ten trucks turned away from Long Beach Container Terminal on Thursday evening, resulting in an estimated $20,000 loss for the company, according to a press release from the trade association. The price tag is based on the costs of paying a truck driver to transport the goods from their facility 200 miles away to the port complex.
“This highly damaging experience is being repeated for thousands of containers, as all agriculture exporters are scrambling to survive this disruption. The example above is significant, but is the tip of the iceberg; it does not capture the costs of the current terminal closures for many other agriculture exporters,” Peter Friedmann, executive director of the Agriculture Transportation Coalition, said in a statement.
The Pacific Maritime Association, which represents shipping lines and terminals that act as port employers, has been negotiating a new master contract with the ILWU since May 2022.
While the two parties have insisted they would seek to prevent large-scale supply chain disruptions, operating without a contract has made it difficult to resolve small disputes at West Coast ports via arbitration, leaving ports exposed to limited disruptions.
The National Retail Federation on Friday called on the White House to help prevent future disruptions — reiterating the position it took in an open letter last month — saying “it is essential that the ongoing labor negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association are resolved immediately.”
Negotiators said in February contract talks are still ongoing, and the two parties “remain hopeful of reaching a deal soon.”