There are a number of questions. How to start? How bad can this get? My freight is delayed and they are charging more for delaying my shipment? These questions could go on all day with the complications from the Labor dispute involving the West Coast Longshoremen and the vessel owners. They have been working without a contract since summer and both sides have recently agreed to Federal mediation.
The good news stops there. No breakthroughs and none appearing on the horizon. The issues involved are large with both sides seeming to have very firm positions and there does not appear to be much room for compromise. The slowdowns and delaying tactics continue at all West Coast ports and the backlogs continue to grow. The rail lines and terminal operators continue to put forth plans to handle the congestion, but the backlogs continue. The same goes with the vessels as they are delayed in loading/unloading and the backlogs continue with berth space which creates vessel delays and port call omissions. Truckers are not able to get into piers and are facing more delaying tactics in spite of increased gate hours at the terminals.
This would be enough, but it does not end with just confusion, frustration, and delays. As the importer and exporter, you get the privilege of paying for these additional delays. The NCBFFA, National Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Association has been pushing the FMC to make sure the carriers do not institute port congestion surcharges without the proper notification to the shipping public and was successful in requesting Federal arbitration. The carriers and terminals are still charging demurrage and detention, and all of those charges are for the account of the exporters and importers. Shipments are not released until charges are paid. The truckers are charging for wait time and overtime, and also have storage charges for containers as they are being delayed for hours. Chassis are not available and/or shortages which results in additional charges and delays; further compounding the problems.
We will continue to keep you informed and we continue to work on options for our clients. Please feel free to contact our staff to discuss your individual needs and concerns with your West Coast imports and exports. There are a number of news updates and there are websites with various viewpoints. Please be informed and aware of the additional costs including the delays involved at this time.