Los Angeles Business Journal

L.A. Port Traffic Rising

By Andrew Edwards Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Traffic at the Port of Los Angeles increased by nearly 14 percent on a year-over-year basis in June as shippers moved up their cargo due to the possibility of a work stoppage at the nation’s busiest seaport.

The port handled about 736,000 containers in June, the greatest amount since September 2012. The volume of June’s imports rose nearly 17 percent above the same month last year, while exports increased by about 9 percent.

Port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said the pace of business has increased throughout the year, so it is difficult to assess how much of the increased port volumes are due to attempts to frontload shipments in advance of any labor strife between port operators and dockworkers, and how much is due to a general increase in business.

The potential labor risk stems from the ongoing contract talks between the Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Outside of a brief disruption caused by a truckers’ strike on July 8, dockworkers have remained on the job in Los Angeles and Long Beach after their contract expired at the end of last month.

“Our position is, retailers have options and if they’re frontloading and bringing in cargo to our port early, that’s better than going to another port,” Sanfield said.

Truckers who went on strike last week are short-haul drivers who demanded that three local trucking firms hire them as full-fledged employees instead of treating them as independent contractors. Sanfield said the trucking issue has not caused a problem at the port. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti negotiated a cooling off period over the weekend.