Backups at US West Coast Ports Cause Disruptions to Trade Network, Speedups for Workers



Claude Delphian | World Socialist Web Site

Record high numbers of imports from Asia have choked the US West Coast supply chain, causing a backlog of ships unable to dock at the Seattle and Tacoma ports in Washington state along with major ports in California. The increased strain on the seaport system is intensifying efforts to restructure the industry to make US trade more competitive in the world economy and thus place a greater burden upon longshoremen and other logistics workers.

Due to the lack of space in the Seattle and Tacoma ports since the spring, container ships have anchored in unusual spots of the Puget Sound region, such as off the coast of Whidbey Island. The U.S. Coast Guard helped to redirect these ships as they waited days or even weeks to unload cargo. There are so many ships waiting to be offloaded that there are not any free and empty containers for new freight in some cases. Backups in the rail system to the Midwest can mean that ships have to wait five to nine days before they can offload, which in turn causes backups in trucking near the port.

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