Container ship lines serving East and Gulf Coast ports are urging customers to pick up import containers and return empty boxes before the International Longshoremen’s Association contract expires Feb. 6.
Maersk Line issued an advisory encouraging customers with dry or refrigerated containers on terminals “to take every available opportunity to have those loads picked up before Feb. 6 … Equally, we strongly encourage the expedient return of all empty containers and chassis by Feb. 6.”
Hyundai Merchant Marine issued a similar advisory last week, and warned that if the ILA strikes, export cargo through East Coast ports “will likely idle on the terminal or destination rail facility until the labor disruption ends.”
Major carriers have filed for authority to issue congestion surcharges to offset costs of a work stoppage. Most of the surcharges are about $1,000 per container. Surcharges would not be imposed unless there is a work stoppage.
Officials at several East and Gulf Coast ports report they’re monitoring negotiations between the ILA and United States Maritime Alliance and will announce contingency plans if a work stoppage appears likely.
Before the ILA and USMX agreed to a short-term extension last month, several ports kept gates open late to clear as much cargo and equipment as possible from container terminals.
Representatives of the ILA and USMX resumed contract negotiations Tuesday.