The supply chain crisis has happened in DC – and Sacramento

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COURTESY PHOTO
Products left on ships in Los Angeles and Long Beach ports have created a supply chain crisis.

Mark the mixture

Editor’s Note: Mark Mix is ​​the chairman of the National Committee for the Right to Work.

For nearly a century, American employees, consumers and business owners have suffered a series of abuse from the small contingent of officials from the International Longshoremen’s Association and the International Longshore Warehouse Union who control largely the seaports of our country.

Thanks to the politicians of the DC ring road who have endowed the heads of the ILA and ILWU with monopoly bargaining power over the management and remuneration of longshoremen, our port system is inefficient and cumbersome by international standards.

As Peter Tirschwell, a veteran transport and trade journalist, explained in the Journal of Commerce in April, a “long history of toxic labor-management relations, particularly on the West Coast, has led to many problems at the heart ”of the flow of American containers today:

“Huge cost increases, a limited ability to automate terminals, avoidable chronic interruptions during contract negotiations and much lower productivity and working hours compared to ports in Asia and elsewhere in the world are at the core. of the problem. “

This year, as household spending rebounds after falling during the brief and abrupt recession of COVID-19, those problems have become even more exacerbated.

In early October, “more than 60 container ships carrying multi-billion dollar clothing, furniture and electronics” were “stranded outside the Los Angeles and Long Beach terminals, waiting to unload. … ”

This extraordinary standoff was so alarming that it prompted union label president Joe Biden to hold a press conference on October 13 touting his administration’s “success” in securing commitments from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to begin with. to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Of course, President Biden’s intervention ignored ILWU strait-jacket work rules that keep productivity in West Coast ports extremely low at all times and would have slowed operations almost to the point of ‘shutdown in recent weeks. Therefore, he was doomed to failure

By October 29, the number of container ships moored outside the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach had climbed to over 100! (These two ports combined handle as many 40% of the total US export / import volume each year, and rank 328th and 333rd in the world for container port performance, respectively, according to the World Bank.)

Even if ILWU-controlled crane operators diligently moved containers from ships to trucks, recent interventions by Big Labor lawmakers in Sacramento would likely ensure a shortage of truckers available to efficiently distribute the goods.

The heaviest of the multiple barriers to port trade imposed by Sacramento politicians under the union label is AB 5, which passed in 2019. This outrageous program is designed to help union bosses lock Californians into unions by making them virtually impossible to work as independent contractors.

Litigation has delayed its implementation in the trucking industry, but in the near future it could effectively ban owner-operators of trucks, even though around 80% of the truckers who serve the ports of LA and Long Beach are owner-operators. Many drivers who wish to continue as owner-operators have undoubtedly already left the state.

The real solution to chronically underperforming US ports is to repeal all federal and state laws that allow and promote Big Labor monopoly control over longshoreman workers. But the political institutions of Washington and Sacramento are apparently not ready to do something as sane as this.

By then, California risks being completely overwhelmed by shippers, who can cross the Panama Canal and unload at ports in right-to-work states along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, where a number of ports are still able to “supplement their unionized workforce with non-union workers” and productivity is much higher.


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