Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

Cargo volumes at the Port of Los Angeles plunged 22.7 percent in January compared with the same month last year, amid congestion at the harbor and a drawn out labor dispute between port management and dockworkers.

The port moved 529,427 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units, or TEUs, of cargo last month, compared to 685,549 TEUs in January 2014.

Imports alone fell 28 percent, from 360,036 TEUs to 259,206 TEUs, between last month and the same period the previous year. Exports were down 23, going from 161,938 TEUs in January 2014 to 124,365 TEUs this year.

Total loaded imports and exports together came out to a 26.5 percent decrease, to 383,571 TEUs from from 521,975 TEUs last year, while the number of empty containers also declined 10.8 percent.

Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka said he was not suprised by the numbers, but with the dockworkers union and port management reaching a tentative labor pact last week, the harbor took “a major step forward in terms of getting our cargo volumes back on track.”

“We’re working with our stakeholders to develop short-term solutions that resolve our present cargo backlog, in addition to longer-term solutions that focus on achieving higher levels of operational efficiency — especially in terms of servicing the larger ships deployed through carrier alliances,” he said.

Labor talks between the International Longshore Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents port terminal operators on the West Coast, grew especially contentious in February. Port management ordered a halt to the loading and unloading of vessels at nights and on weekends, saying workers were conducting an illegal slowdown, which the employees union denied.

The now-resolved labor dispute also affected the Long Beach port — which saw its own 18 percent drop in cargo volume in January — along with 27 other West Coast harbors. Ports have also been dealing with industry-wide shifts, including a greater number of large ships dropping off bigger deliveries, which have contributed to congestion at ports.

— City News Service

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