The ILWU has been working without a contract since July 1, and it represents 20,000 dockworkers across 29 West Coast ports. One might recall in 2002, when a 10-day shutdown at every West Coast port resulted in the U.S. economy losing $1 billion per day.
These business disruptions have long-lasting effects, especially in a globally competitive maritime industry where cargo owners are making decisions daily about which ports they choose to ship their cargo.
Typically, cargo owners will choose the path of least resistance, whether it’s a Canadian port, Mexican port—or an all-water route through the Panama or Suez canals.
In the maritime sector, “time is money” and cargo owners will choose the fastest, most cost-effective, and reliable method of transportation. If these decision-makers do not choose Oakland as their port of call, our Northern California region stands to lose local jobs and tax revenues that will be diverted to other ports in other cities and other countries.
From dockworkers to truckers and from grocery store workers to restaurant workers—and everyone in between—ports support an entire supply chain of jobs. The Port of Oakland and its tenants support 73,000 jobs in the region–10,000 at the seaport alone–and impact 800,000 jobs nationwide.
The Port of Oakland is the fifth busiest container port in the United States.
Every day, ocean carriers deliver cargo boxes that contain essential commodities that we rely upon in our daily lives such as food products, electrical machinery, apparel, and electronics. If you can eat it, drive it, play with it or wear it—then chances are—it probably came through the Port of Oakland. For every 1000 containers delivered at the Port of Oakland, eight local jobs are created and sustained.
More than half of the Bay Area’s exports – and fully 70 percent of Oakland’s trade – is destined for markets in Asia. The Port of Oakland is the primary gateway for exporting California’s agricultural goods from the California Central Valley and Napa Wine Country. Last year, cargo moving through the Port was valued at $40 billion.
PMA and ILWU must agree upon a contract as soon as possible in order to end this stalemate. Too many jobs depend upon the Port of Oakland. We simply cannot afford to wait.
(Chris Lytle, Executive Director, Port of Oakland: Port of Oakland Maritime Newsletter – December 2014)