Because it's the 2020s, manufacturers and retailers are holding their breath about yet another potential hit to their business: a possible strike at U.S. West Coast ports.
The contract between the Pacific Maritime Association and members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union expired July 5, and while negotiations and work continue, our sister paper Automotive News writes that automakers are making plans for what they will do if dock workers go on strike.
PMA represents 29 ports from the Canadian border to the border of Mexico. In 2021, those ports accounted for 37 percent of all imports into the U.S.
We've already seen how the U.S. supply chain was impacted when work slowed at those ports. The potential damage if work stops has automakers and suppliers creating contingency plans such as shipping to ports in Mexico and Canada, flying important parts into the U.S. or rerouting to Gulf Coast or East Coast parts. Those plans, however, can't cover everything, Gary Silberg, global head of automotive for consulting group KPMG, said.
"Even though they can have contingency plans, that's a lot of goods to get through, and if the whole thing shuts down, it would be painful," Silberg said.
A PMA representative told AN that the ports are "optimistic" they can reach a contract settlement without a strike, but if these past few years have taught us anything, it's that we can always expected the unexpected.