Delays at Port of Oakland May Get Worse from Truckers Strike

 In import, International Shipping, shipping containers

For the past three months SSA Terminals have had severe delays at the Port of Oakland.

Inside Bay Area News described it as “a debilitating cargo backlog” in an article about a month ago.

The backlog of cargo containers and delays in trucking them out of the Port of Oakland has caused shippers to wait weeks to get the goods they imported.

In the above mentioned article, Inside Bay Area News described the situation of one such shipper: Greg Long, owner of a design firm in San Francisco called GAMAGO. He had to wait three times as long as normal, a full three weeks, for a shipping container of goods to clear customs and be delivered.

That’s longer than it took for the vessel to sail from China to Oakland with his shipping container onboard!

Delays at Port of OaklandLong was quoted in the article as saying, “One of our shipping companies has refused to send drivers to the port because they just stay there waiting.”

It’s not only shippers who are hurt by this backlog and delay situation with SSA Terminals at the Port of Oakland. Truckers are getting hurt and many, if not most, that truck shipping containers out of Oakland are only serving existing clients.

According to an email that recently was circulated to Universal Cargo Management’s staff, there is rumor of a possible strike this week from Oakland truckers. That strike has not been confirmed, but it would not be the first action truckers have taken in this situation.

Contra Costa Times News reported that truckers staged a blockade that shut down the SSA terminal at the Port of Oakland and blocked access to several more in August.

Truckers have been finding themselves waiting up to 6 or 7 hours to pick up a single load. As truckers are paid by the load, this has a serious impact on their profits. The conditions of the situation make it even worse.

Due to safety regulations at the port, truckers are not allowed to get out of their vehicles at the port and are subject to fines if they do.

“How do you expect us to sit inside the truck for six hours and not get out?” ABC 7 KGO-TV San Francisco quoted trucker Sukhdeep Singh as saying.

The barricade and pickets of the truckers was successful as the union dockworkers (longshoremen) chose not to cross the picket line and go to work.

The first email I saw on the backlogs and backups at the Port of Oakland said the waiting times are more than truckers can bare as the union dockworkers are working extremely slowly. However, ILWU Local 10 President Mike Villeggiante put all the blame on SSA, according to the Inside Bay Area News article.

Villeggiante said the company took two berths out of operation when cargo volumes grew.

“It has nothing to do with labor,” Inside Bay Area News quoted Villeggiante as saying. “They’re trying to move a lot of cargo from one area, and it just isn’t functioning.”

SSA did take over two terminals next to one they already operated in order, at least in part, to be able to handle the new mega-ships that have become so popular in the international shipping industry. Of course, SSA is not likely to agree that they are to blame for the delays and apparently the Port of Oakland doesn’t lay the blame where the ILWU does either.

The port put some of the blame back on the longshoremen.

The Inside Bay Area News article reported that port spokesman Robert Bernardo “said the problem has been exacerbated by the Independence Day holiday and three ensuing one-day labor stoppages by the longshoremen — including one to protest SSA’s takeover of the terminal.”

Longshoremen have gotten extra work through the situation as the port opened for extra hours over weekends to try to get the situation back under control.

The problem is, things are still backed up and delays are still happening at the Port of Oakland. However, the big problems are centered at SSA Terminals. If you have goods being imported through the Port of Oakland at other terminals, like Port of America. Unfortunately for this situation, more carriers use SSA.

While this situation is being resolved, Universal Cargo Management is strongly recommending other routing options for your imports that might normally come in through SSA Terminals at the Port of Oakland. That might include looking into other terminal options or even importing through the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach and bringing up shipping containers via rail.

Your sales representative will help you through your options and our ops people will work hard to see that your shipments move as smoothly as possible.

We’ll keep an eye on the situation to see when things get better or in the event of things getting worse with another truckers strike.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.insidebayarea.com/news/ci_23827285/oakland-port-struggles-solve-cargo-backlog

http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_23892956/port-oakland-truckers-block-berths-protest-slow-turnaround

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news/local/east_bay&id=9213270

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