Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Longshoremen slow down West Coast ports

For months the longshoremen were claiming they were working as normal, despite clear evidence.

Ask Tom Riggan, CEO of Chelan Fresh. His cold storage is full of fruit and only half of his orders were able to ship through the ports of Seattle and Tacoma. Chilean Fresh had to lay off 250 employees and reduce 70 from full-time to part-time. Seattle Times

Also ask Blaine Calaway of Ellensburg

Blaine Calaway, vice president of sales for Ellensburg-based Calaway Trading, which ships grains, forages and hay products through the Seattle and Tacoma ports destined for Asia mainly as animal feed.

Calaway said he has had to reduce his employees’ hours by half — at a time when his employees usually are working overtime.

The longshoremen are not on strike. True. They are getting regular pay while slowing down loading, way down. 

The Washington suppliers being hurt are losing business now - and in the future. If customers cannot get the Washington fruit or grain they ordered they will buy from competitors, competitors in other countries.

Riggan, with Chelan Fresh, said he is worried about the same thing — specifically competitors buying Red Delicious apples from Italy. One customer in Taiwan has already started supplementing the limited orders it has received from Chelan with Italian apples.

“My fear is — once someone gets their foot in the door, the next year they can be your competition,” he said.

When the labor face-off is over will the officers of ILWU Local 19 help market Washington products to regain the markets they had last year, but lost due to this slowdown?

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