Snag in U.S. Rail Talks Raise Red Flag

by | Oct 27, 2022 | Updates

Port of Long Beach executive director, Mario Cordero voiced his concerns over stalled railroad workers/management talks during remarks made at the American Association of Port Authorities annual convention on October 17. Cordero said the nation’s economy would suffer from a strike because railroads account for about 40% of U.S. long-distance freight volume, and both the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles depend heavily on railroads to move cargo.

“I think my level of concern is more in that area of getting the freight moved than the real discussions at the bargaining table. That’s only because, one of the issues we have had at the San Pedro port complex and other port gateways is the lack of railcars, the lack of equipment,” Cordero said. “Our movement of railcars depends on what happens as far away as in Chicago. So, now, add to that this labor strife. I think that that concerns me more in terms of how that could disrupt not just the South, the Southwest or Southern California, but gateways overall throughout the nation.”

Meanwhile, Cordero said he is closely watching labor talks in San Francisco between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the management team from the Pacific Maritime Association, covering an estimated 22,000 workers at 29 locations. Speaking on the situation at Long Beach and the Port of Los Angeles, Cordero remarked, “There’s no interruption of cargo. The cargo is moving. Negotiations continue. I’m very confident that there will be a resolution at some point, and again confident that we will continue to move the cargo so that we meet the demand not only of the consumer, but the various business enterprises.”

Ongoing talks and concerns over a possible labor dispute have caused a shift in cargoes from U.S. West Coast ports to the East Coast. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey surpassed the Port of Los Angeles in August as the busiest shipping port in the U.S.The Port of Savannah, Ga., moved into fourth place as that facility is on track to process nearly 5.8 million containers in 2022. Just two years ago, it moved 4.7 million. Cordero said labor uncertainty has been a significant factor in that shift.

Source: Transport Topics

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