By the end of May, West Coast ports anticipate operations should return to normal following many months of massive congestion. The crippling congestion was caused, in part, by work slow-downs at the ports resulting from tense contract negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA). Votes to ratify the new contract between the ILWU and the PMA will be counted on May 22, 2015.
Los Angeles and Long Beach ports had up to 28 ships at anchor during peak congestion; now, the backlog has decreased to between 0 and 2 ships awaiting berth. Other West Coasts ports have shown similar improvement with quicker gate turn times from Tacoma, WA, through Oakland, CA. As West Coast ports recover, containerized imports into the US have hit record levels through some of the highest volume East and West Coast ports. Meanwhile, ocean carriers are testing market tolerance by continuing to promise general rate increases (GRIs).
While ports recover from congestion, some trade experts maintain that backlogs will continue because terminals on the West Coast do not have the infrastructure to handle the increased ship sizes on the water and in production. Additionally, the recent truck drivers’ strike at Los Angeles and Long Beach ended at the beginning of the month without causing significant disruption to operations; however, the drivers maintain that there will be additional action in the future.
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