The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and smaller organizations had been in one of the longest labor dispute negotiations with 29 West Coast ports from last holiday season to late February of this year. At the port of Oakland, dockworkers returned back to work in February after both ILWU and port officials agreed on a new labor contract ending in July 2019 that solved most of workers’ complaints with improved benefits and working conditions. Truckers moving cargo at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach held multiple strikes this year, but most drivers reported back to work before May 2nd. While the backlog of containers and shipments on the West Coast has improved, the issue is still fluid and some terminals still remain in poor condition. While the ILWU labor is no longer at the front and center of the congestion problem, chassis and driver shortages remain problematic.
While companies including DCL were all affected by the backlog, operations are slowly coming back to normal. During the port slowdown, many DCL customers’ re-assessed their supply chain model by utilizing other DCL warehouses and services in response to the short term challenges. Clients leveraged DCL’s Louisville facility and transported stock inventory either by land bridge from the West Coast or entry into the East Coast via air or ocean. As the ports recover, some customers may discover that keeping these changes may yield long term benefits as a more scalable and cost-effective solution.