The International Longshoremen’s Association has been in talks for months with the United States Maritime Alliance, the organization representing East and Gulf Coast ports. Despite federal mediation, there’s been little progress.
Jonathan Gold is vice president of supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation.
“There’s a very strong likelihood that we could see a strike impacting the ports after the current contract expires on December 29.”
Gold says another possibility is a lockout of the longshoremen. Either outcome would disrupt operations at fifteen separate container ports from Houston to Boston.
“One only needs to look back to what happened in 2002, when we had a ten-day lockout on the West Coast. An economist said that that lockout cost the economy about $1 billion a day and took well over six months to recover from.”
Roughly 45% of U.S. imports and exports move through the Gulf and East Coast ports. There’s not been a strike at these ports since 1977.