Workers returned to work on Saturday after two days of intermittent strikes at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in California.
Unions have not agreed new pay terms since an old contract ran out on July 1 last year, making shippers uneasy about the prospects for industrial action.
The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents the employers of dockworkers on the US West Coast, said during Friday’s disruption: “These actions undermine confidence in West Coast ports, and threaten to further accelerate the diversion of discretionary cargo to Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports. The health of the Southern California and state economy depend on the ability of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to stem this market share erosion.”
Lars Jensen, who heads up container consultancy Vespucci Maritime, said last week’s port disruption was like “a train wreck in slow motion”.
“Ever since the old contract failed to get renewed in the middle of 2022, the spectre of labour disruptions on the US west coast has been a constant risk factor. A risk which has kept some US importers from shiftings parts of their supply chain back from the east coast to the west coast even though the pandemic-induced issues had been largely resolved,” Jensen wrote in a post on LinkedIn.