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Above-average Retail Imports as Longshoremen’s Negotiations Continue

by Alexis Willey

The import of retail merchandise remains above average as negotiations continue between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association.

In a report released September 9 by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates, 1.47 million containers are expected to pass through U.S. ports covered by the Global Port Tracker report this month. September has averaged 1.42 million containers for the past five years.

Concerns grew among retailers as the West Coast longshoremen’s contract remained unsettled after its expiration on July 1, which prompted an early import of back-to-school and holiday goods in preparation for a potential disruption on the docks. August saw an all-time monthly record of 1.53 million containers because of these precautions. [Read more...]

Record Imports Expected as West Coast Port Talks Continue

nrfImport volume at major U.S. container ports is expected to hit an all-time record in August as retailers concerned about the lack of a West Coast longshoremen’s contract rush to bring holiday season merchandise into the country, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.

Import volume at U.S. ports covered by the Global Port Tracker report is expected to total 1.54 million containers this month, which is the highest monthly volume since NRF began tracking import volume in 2000. It tops a previous record of 1.53 million set in July, as well as unusually high numbers seen this spring as retailers began importing merchandise early in anticipation of this summer’s contract talks.

The contract between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union expired on July 1. Dockworkers remain on the job as both sides continue to negotiate a new agreement.

West Coast Ports Negotiations Resume as Cargo Shifts East

The shipping news journal Lloyd’s List reports that the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) have resumed contract negotiations following a three-day hiatus last week. In the meantime, retailers are bringing holiday merchandise into the country at record levels to protect against potential supply chain disruptions, according to the Global Port Tracker report from the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

Import volume at major U.S. container ports is expected to total 1.5 million containers this month, the highest monthly volume in at least five years. This follows a trend of unusually high import levels that began this spring as retailers worked to import merchandise ahead of potential problems.

The contract between the PMA and the ILWU expired on July 1. Dockworkers remain on the job as both sides continue to negotiate a new agreement. [Read more...]

Potential West Coast Port Shutdown Looms Over Toy Industry

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) is encouraging members to develop contingency plans for shipments scheduled to arrive through ports on the West Coast. Upcoming labor negotiations between dockworkers and maritime employers could become contentious, resulting in a possible port shutdown or strike throughout the coast that would have a negative impact on the toy industry during the busy pre-holiday shipping season, according to the TIA.

Contract talks between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which are expected to begin in May, center on an estimated $150 million in excise taxes owed under the Affordable Health Care Act for the health care plans of ILWU workers. If negotiations extend beyond the July 1 expiration date of the current contract, a shutdown or strike could occur on the West Coast, costing the U.S. economy an estimated $1 billion each day.

Disruptions may be partially avoided by conducting a thorough review of supply chains and diverting cargo through alternate ports in Mexico or the East and Gulf Coast ports of the U.S. Any questions may be directed to Rebecca Mond, TIA director of federal government affairs, at rmond@toyassociation.org.