Congestion in US ports to worsen as rail and truck strikes loom

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Rail and trucker strikes threaten America at the same time as signs emerge that its ports on both coasts are once again overloaded.

Supply chain employees are also fraying nerves over ongoing negotiations between dockworker unions and employers on the US west coast.

According to a letter from the US Chamber, President Biden should “help resolve ongoing labor negotiations between the Class I freight railroads and the twelve rail unions by establishing a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) composed of individuals who are impartial, belong to the National Academy of Arbitrators, and have direct experience in resolving rail disputes.”

As the chamber stated, establishing a PEB before 12:01 am EDT on July 18 is essential to preventing any disruption of rail service for America.” 

Without a PEB, the railroads and unions may take action to stop 115,000 workers’ work by strike or lockout.

It would add to already strained supply chains if there were a work stoppage at US ports on all coasts.

Upon appointment, a PEB will have 30 days to settle issues by making recommendations. After the recommendations report is released, the two sides will not be allowed to stop work for 30 days.

An official from the White House told Reuters the administration “is following the same process used in the past when considering a PEB.”

Many truckers are set to go on strike in California as early as today in protest of AB5, a new state law. Further strikes are planned for Monday as well.

By classifying independent contractors as employees instead of contractors, AB5 intends to limit their use. 

There are dual threats of rail and road strikes during peak season as data shows congestion at Los Angeles and Long Beach, the two country’s top ports. During the past month, the number of import containers waiting more than nine days at both ports has increased to its highest level in the past year. In addition to the west coast, congestion has been building on the east coast as well for several weeks.