Costs of Possible West Coast Port Strike are Significant

We get a lot of stuff from the west coast. And we also ship out a lot of ag products and manufactured goods out there.  A major port strike is brewing if the players do not settle their differences. Here’s a story from Supply chain 24/7

Costs of Possible West Coast Port Strike are Significant, According to NAM and NRF Study – Supply Chain 24/7.

It’s the season when goods for holiday and fall seasons are starting to come to the US.  Retailers can’t be without these goods when the season starts. (Halloween? Before?)  Unions of course chose a maximum impact time to strike.  It’s the only time in the life of a contract (3 or 4 years) that they have leverage, so why wouldn’t they? You would too if you were in their position.

What would they like to see made better for their workers?  Read up on the issue at the ILWU and PMA websites. PMA is the negotiator for all the port and terminal operators at these ports.

Tell us what you think about the issues.  What would you like to learn about the role of ports in our economy?

Derek Leathers of Werner testifies to Congress

Here is a considered view of the state of trucking and freight transportation, and some ideas on how to improve things, from Derek Leathers, President of Werner Enterprises, an important logistics firm.

04 24 13 — Derek Leathers Written Testimony.pdf.

Derek is a highly respected executive in the industry, and he presents some important points.

  1. He believes the fuel tax is the fairest and most efficient way to fund the repair of our highways, and needs only to be adjusted for inflation and for improving efficiency of vehicles.
  2. He thinks the FMCSA rules and procedures for safety improvement have some systematic issues which unfairly affect truckers and place undeserved responsibility on them.
  3. He talks about the difficulty of obtaining roadable chassis and its cost to the consumer, and points the finger at unenforced maintenance provisions for chassis pool owners.

These are a few of the issues truckers face. It’s good our government is paying a bit of attention. Let’s hope they take action.

What do you think?


Driving Value Over the Last Mile

It’s an interesting point that last-mile workers are really salespeople or customer service workers.  How should they be trained? Shouldn’t they have the business skills we expect of in-store sales associates or sales reps?  The truck driving becomes a small part of the equation.  MIT has been looking at this area of transportation.

Driving Value Over the Last Mile | Supply Chain @ MIT.

I’m interested for two reasons.  First, how should these jobs in the supply chain be classified in government statistics on jobs in different fields? Are they sales people or transportation workers? It’s an example of how we can be misled about a job related to logistics, and perhaps underestimate the effect logistics has on our economy.

Second, the new emphasis on the last mile, direct customer contact with transportation is creating new opportunities. If we really are to have delivery within 24 hours, with customer support as part of the package, our supply chain operations skills and talents need reexamination and refocusing.  Our workers wioll need to be more talented and be better educated in business and human skills as well as technical ones.  Those who train themselves to manage logistics as customer service will put themselves in a position to make big contributions at companies and be leaders on the fast track.

What to Expect in Latest Transportation Regulation

Here is a nice review of current transportation regulations which are being considered for changes.  it comes from the CH Robinson blog, via Supply Chain 24/7.  Many of the regulations are unlikely to change things much within 2 years, according to the author.

What to Expect in Latest Transportation Regulations – Supply Chain 24/7.

Supply chain stakeholders call on ILWU and PMA to deal

A port strike on the West Coast would disrupt many supply chains.  And it’s timed to occur at the peak shipping season. No wonder the supply chain representatives want it settled.

Supply chain stakeholders call on ILWU and PMA to reach a deal – Article from Logistics Management.

What are the issues for the union? Not wages, particularly.

  • Poaching of longshore jobs by employers and other unions
  • Health Care and Pension benefits
  • Replacing workers with technology

Disruptions like this one require a buildup of inventory in advance to make it through the problem time.  So more shipments are being scheduled, placing more demand on the ports now.  Another strategy is to book on routes that avoid the West Coast.  These are more expensive and more time consuming, but less likely to be disrupted.

The fact that port customers are getting involved means increased pressure to make concessions.  But how reasonable will the unions and management reps be?

What’s Your Plan if There’s a West Coast Port Strike?

Supply chain disruptions can come from many sources.  One is job actions or strikes.  There;s a new contract up for negotiation on the west coast and it could have a dramatic impact on intermodal cargo.

What’s Your Plan if There’s a West Coast Port Strike? – Supply Chain 24/7.

Here is an interesting discussion of some of the port options. Capacity, especially rail from the alternate ports, is tight!  As you can see, you’d better start planning now, even just a contingency plan, if you are expecting big cargo around that time.

Recent Study Indicates New Trucker Rest Rules Mean Higher Consumer Costs?

The new hours of serivce rules for truckers do cut hours on the road for a single trucker. But do they mean prices will go up? Not necessarily.  Truckers probably won’t have the muscle in the market to pass the rate on.  So shippers and consigners have to address service issues by making their cooperation with truckers more efficient. That’s what this UT study says.

Recent Study Indicates New Trucker Rest Rules Could Mean Higher Consumer Costs – Supply Chain 24/7.

Can shippers and warehouse yards make enough difference by fine tuning their operations?