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Ocean cargo shippers concerned about labor and safety issues on the West Coast

Ongoing demonstrations and the "exploding reefer" episodes are clogging ocean cargo gateways.
By Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
November 10, 2011

With several terminals closed at West Coast seaports due to Veterans Day, shippers are hoping that cargo operations will return to normal next week. For a variety of reasons, however, that may be unlikely – especially at the Port of Oakland.

Due to the ongoing “Occupy Oakland” demonstrations, TraPac terminal at the port has been effectively shut down. Further exacerbating the situation is the series of “exploding reefers” issue. As reported here, dockworkers have refused to unload some vessels until investigators are able to identify which containers may be at risk.

For Devine Intermodal, a major San Francisco Bay Area drayage company, the problems have reached a critical stage.

“Every day for the past two weeks, at least one terminal has been shut down, reported Devine. “The resulting congestion is reminiscent of the prelude to the 2002 lockout.”

The “lockout,” shippers may recall, was an ongoing labor/management dispute that caused a major ocean carrier diversion away from the West Coast.  As a consequence, many major manufacturing and retail supply chains were permanently reconfigured to mitigate future occurrences.

In a letter sent to its shippers, Devine declared, “our hands are tied; our productivity negatively impacted.”

Zepol Corporation, a leading trade intelligence company, added to this grim picture by noting in its latest monthly report tht The Port of Oakland saw imports drop for the second consecutive month in October.


About the Author

Patrick Burnson
Executive Editor

Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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