The Port of Los Angeles is beginning around-the-clock operations as part of an effort to move stranded container ships and relieve the supply chain bottlenecks that are driving up U.S. prices and slowing the country’s economic recovery from the pandemic.
Under the plan, brokered by the White House, the Port of Los Angeles (POLA) will nearly double the number of hours that cargo is moved off container ships and onto highways by having crews work through the night and at weekends. Similar steps have already been taken at the Port of Long Beach (POLB). As a key part of the nation’s logistics network, these two facilities are responsible for nearly half of all imports into the United States.
Shortages and bottlenecks at the ports have proved more persistent and widespread than anticipated. The ongoing problems pose a serious risk to the economy, adding to inflation and constraining spending, which is crucial for the recovery. With companies unable to get parts and supplies, many have been unable to produce enough goods to meet growing demand, resulting in lost sales and delays in hiring as firms cannot ramp up as quickly as they would like.
Last week, there were 62 ships berthed at the two ports and 81 waiting to dock and unload, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California. By stark contrast, in normal times there would be few, if any, waiting to dock.
The goal of the new 24/7 operations is to move an additional 3,500 containers during the night each week. Commitments by POLA’s operators, longshoremen and several of the country’s largest retail and shipping companies will help attain that goal. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has announced its members are willing to work the extra shifts. Major shippers and retailers, including Walmart, FedEx, UPS, Samsung, Home Depot and Target, have made commitments to unload during off-peak hours, making it easier for POLA to operate nonstop and reduce the backlog.