Port Strike Looming – Economy Beware

In November, dock workers in southern California went on strike, creating havoc in the local economy and supply chain. Now, America might be set for worse. 

Earlier this month, talks between dock workers and shipping companies on the East and Gulf coasts broke down due to the issue of container royalties, with potential ramifications affecting the entire country. If the International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S.Maritime Alliance aren’t able to reach an agreement by Saturday, thousands of dock workers from around the country may go on strike, creating a much larger economic fallout. 

In 2002, a similar strike was estimated to cost the American economy $1 billion per day. Business groups and state officials have called for President Obama’s involvement to prevent such financial devastation again. Business groups wrote to Obama last week stating that “Failure to reach an agreement resulting in a coast wide shutdown will have serious economy-wide impacts.” 

If a settlement cannot be reached, this latest strike would affect the east and gulf coasts from Boston to Houston, causing problems to the supply chain around the country. The Longshoremen’s union represents 14,500 workers at more than a dozen ports on these coasts, handling 95% of all containerized shipments from Maine to Texas. They handle 65% of America’s international trade by value, contribute $3.5 trillion to the American economy, and support 13 million jobs nationwide. All of this is at risk due to the domino effect of a labor strike. The unions understand the massive power those numbers wield, and it appears they’re not above leveraging that power to the detriment of millions of workers and consumers. Can the American economy handle another hit like this?  We may soon find out.