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US shippers turn to air freight amid port labour dispute

Published Fri, Feb 6, 2015 · 09:50 PM
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Los Angeles

MANUFACTURERS and retailers are stockpiling goods and taking steps to bypass US West Coast ports amid a labour dispute that the facilities' operators say threatens a shutdown disrupting more than 40 per cent of US trade.

Cargo piling up amid stalled talks with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) pushed the 29 ports to the brink of a "coast-wide meltdown", said James McKenna, president of the Pacific Maritime Association, the trade group of shippers and terminal operators.

ILWU president Robert McEllrath said that management was responsible for the congestion crisis and that the parties are close to a settlement.

Users of the biggest US container ports have faced slowdowns and backups since mid-2014, with congestion worsening in November as unionised dockworkers reduced productivity at several locations, according to the maritime association. With prospects growing of a coastwide shutd…

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