Friday, February 20, 2015

Oakland Experiences Dramatic Cargo Volume Drop

By Mark Edward Nero

Monthly cargo volume at Port of Oakland declined dramatically in January, the result of the ongoing West Coast waterfront labor dispute. The port reported Feb. 17 that its total containerized volume was down about 30 percent compared to the same month last year.

Last month, Oakland terminals saw a total of 138,055 TEUs, a drop of 29.7 percent from the same month last year. Imports were down 39 percent compared January 2014, while exports declined 26 percent, according to port data.

The port attributed the steep declines to slowdowns arising from a dispute between dockworkers with the International Longshore & Warehouse Union and employers who are represented by the Pacific Maritime Association, over a new contract. Port operations at 29 ports up and down the West Coast have been affected by the impasse, which is now in its ninth month.

“With a decline in productivity and a breakdown in vessel schedules at all US West Coast ports, cargo volumes are far from normal,” Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll said.

The port says its loss in cargo traffic is attributable in part to importers beginning to divert containerized cargo to gateways outside the US West Coast, including ports in Canada, Mexico and the US East Coast.