West Coast ports could see a diversion of cargo from East and Gulf Coast ports this year if contract talks between waterfront employers and the International Longshoremen’s Association become heated, a shipping executive said Tuesday
David Arsenault, vice president of Hyundai Merchant Marine, told the Propeller Club of Los Angeles-Long Beach that retailers are already discussing contingency plans with their ocean carriers as the Sept. 30 contract expiration date is only seven months away.
The ILA is scheduled to begin negotiations this spring with the United States Maritime Alliance, but an indication of what to expect may come as early as next week. ILA President Harold Daggett and USMX Chairman and CEO James Capo will address the annual Trans-Pacific Maritime conference next Tuesday in Long Beach.
If the panel discussion gets heated, Arsenault said he expects carriers the very next day will receive phone calls from concerned customers looking for space on vessels later this year.
The ILA has not had a coast-wide strike since 1977. However, this is Daggett’s first contract negotiation as president of the union, and he told an ILA convention last year he is “against automation” if it leads to job losses for his members.