Work slowdowns, lack of skilled labor, strikes, ongoing contract negotiations and the busy holiday season continue to significantly aggravate congestion at West Coast ports.
In addition, the Port of Oakland was closed last week, after the death of a dockworker at San Francisco Bay’s breakbulk and bulk facility in Benicia Wednesday night. The longshoreman died from natural causes, according to the Solano County Coroner. International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10 called for a safety stand-down at Bay Area ports on Thursday, which is standard procedure following the death on the job of a union member. Oakland, which handles virtually all of the containers that move through Northern California, reopened today (Friday).
Despite the turmoil and congestion, the Port of Oakland is faring better than the nation’s largest ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach where delays are measured by days as opposed to weeks. The port has been aggressively marketing itself to take some discretionary cargo that shippers can shift north. “We are attracting additional import volume by taking advantage of our available capacity,” Maritime Director John Driscoll said in a press release. “Customers need a way around congestion, and they are beginning to see Oakland as a solution.”
The marketing and diversion traffic has helped the port increase import growth by more than 9% in October.