Ports & Terminals
West Coast labor disputes made shippers “The Victim”
John Amos, former global transportation director for Bechtel Corporation, former Chairman of the Board of The (NITL) National Industrial Transportation League and an organizer of the Breakbulk Europe conference in Antwerp says that shippers have been the “’the victim” of the recent West Coast labor slow down.
Amos, who today heads his own firm, Amos Logistics, says that the labor dispute was allowed to drag on without a resolution because neither the PMA (Pacific Maritime Association) nor the International Longshore and ILWU (Warehouse Union) felt any responsibility for the losses incurred by importers and exporters whose cargo was stranded during the work slow-down.
Amos says U.S. agricultural exporters were particularly hard hit by the slow down because their product spoils over time and becomes undeliverable.
Amos believes that a repetition of the slow down would be an economic disaster and that the West Coast ports need to work together to find a means to protect shippers from a future occurrence.
In the long run, however, Amos does not believe there will be permanent damage to the market share of the Ports of Oakland, Long Beach and Los Angeles, because too many people live in California to ignore.
Amos says that Southern California has two third of California’s population and for that reason alone ships need to sail to the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to deliver manufactured goods and apparel. Added to this is the intermodal rail capacity built up by the railroads to transport imports and exports between the Southern California ports and Mid-west destinations.
“The Atlantic Coast ports don’t have the rail connections, the deep draft for the big ships and the warehouse capacity that Southern California has and so I don’t see how a fundamental shift is possible.”
Amos, says he does not believe either Mexico or Canada can replicate the cargo handling of the Southern California ports and so neither poses a threat.
Amos a past president of the Railway Industrial Clearance Association, past president of the Pacific Transportation Association, and past president of the Transportation Club of San Francisco and is the current president of the Propeller Club of Northern California.