As shippers recover from the recent strike at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, another work stoppage looms ahead for the East and Gulf Coast ports in the U.S., if USMX and ILA fail to reach a contract agreement by December 29, 2012.

For the past nine months, negotiations have failed to produce a new contract to address the concerns of both parties. Disputes over the contract have primarily focused on efficiency and productivity improvements that would result in cost savings for USMX. The two parties returned to the bargaining table this past Monday. However, unless there’s a short-term extension, ILA and USMX sources say a strike is likely.

Failure to reach an agreement by the December 29th deadline will result in a shutdown and have an adverse effect on the U.S. economy. As the deadline nears, Deringer advises shippers to consider alternative strategies to avoid disruptions to their supply chains.

• Prepare for the potential of force majeure for freight already on the water destined for East Coast or Gulf ports.

• Consider re-routing import and export freight through Canadian or West Coast ports, though some delays can still be anticipated as those ports will be inundated with cargo subject to Force Majeure.

• Plan to book early. Importers should work with overseas suppliers to project the availability of goods 21 to 30 days out, well in advance of goods being delivered to the overseas port. Loading delays can be expected overseas unless plans are made beforehand.


The above article was contributed by A.N. Deringer Inc.