U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has issued Cargo Systems Message Service #14-000365, establishing procedures for a possible West Coast trade disruption that could cause major delays and diversions of vessel cargo arriving and departing from various U.S. ports.
CBP states that, “These instructions should assist the trade stakeholders in developing contingency plans for the possible diversion of vessels and cargo scheduled for discharge at west coast ports. These procedures are only applicable during the disruptive event. CBP will publish notices when these interim procedures go into effect, and when the interim procedures are terminated and normal processing resumes. ”
The current labour contract between the International Longshore and Warehouse Association Union (ILWU) and port operators represented by the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) along the U.S. West Coast expired on June 30, 2014. Negotiations have so far failed to make significant progress on a number of key issues where the two sides remain apart and recent work slowdowns have crippled cargo-handling operations at all major West Coast Coast gateways, increasing congestion while cutting peak season container traffic by as much as half at some ports.
A coalition of shippers last week called on the White House to invoke the Taft-Hartley Act to keep ports running in the event of a strike or an owner lockout. The last time that happened was in 2002, when another protracted contract dispute between the West Coast ports and dock workers triggered a lockout that went on for 11 days before then President George W. Bush used the law to end it. Bookmark this link for updates on the latest news about the West Coast port situation and ILWU-PMA contract dispute.