One week ago, when previewing what may be the first lockout of the West Coast Ports since 2002, we cited the Retail Industry Leaders Association who, realizing that failure to reach an agreement between the dockworker union and their bosses, the Pacific Maritime Association representing port management would lead to devastating consequences for the US retail industry, had several very damning soundbites:
- “a work slowdown during contract negotiations over the past seven months has already created logistic nightmares for American exporters, manufacturers and retailers dependent on an efficient supply chain. A complete shutdown would be catastrophic, with hundreds of thousands of jobs at risk if America’s supply chain grinds to a halt.“
- “A west coast port shutdown would be an economic disaster.”
- “A shutdown would not only impact the hundreds of thousands of jobs working directly in America’s transportation supply chain, but the reality is the entire economy would be impacted as exports sit on docks and imports sit in the harbor waiting for manufacturers to build products and retailers to stock shelves.”
And the punchline: “The slowdown is already making life difficult, but a shutdown could derail the economy completely.”
Just so readers have a sense of what is at stake, this is what the average dockworker makes: $147,000 a year in salary, plus $35,000 a year in employer-paid health care and an annual pension of $80,000 (according to an association press release). It is the overtime compensation to the total shown here, which grosses to over a quarter of a million dollars, that dockworkers are negotiating to raise or else the key US supply-chains gets it.
So the bottom line is that nobody really knows what will happen if the “partial” stoppage becomes a permanent one, as dockworkers try lever their influence on the US economy (which according to financial comedy TV is so strong, it should have no problem to meet their demands, right?), but it is safe to say that the final outcome will be somewhere between the “catastrophic” devastation for the economy which the retail industry predicts, and anywhere up to a 3.5% hit to the GDP, which in turn means an economic recession, if only temporary.
One thing, however, about which there is no doubt at all, is the unprecedented congestion that has slammed the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach harbor: that is very much real, as can be seen on the series of photos below courtesy of Mike Kelley. From his blog:
Full article: The “Catastrophic Shutdown Of America’s Supply Chain” Begins: Stunning Photos Of West Coast Port Congestion (Zero Hedge)