The ongoing congestion and labor issues that are plaguing Los Angeles and now all other U.S. West Coast Ports would seem to me about to reach catastrophic levels and potentially greatly weaken the U.S. Economy in 2015. But it is interesting to me, in talking with friends and relatives not in the Logistics Industry, how little any of this is hitting the news. With all the violence in the world dominating the nightly and other news programs this issue has been slow in developing for seemingly most of the country.
Perhaps it is quite different out West. I traveled to California back in October and it was obvious that most in my company were much more knowledgeable than my East coast colleagues. But due to I spent most of my time on this trip with others in the Logistics Industry it would be interesting to know the average West coast person’s take on the situation.
I had two experiences recently that highlighted how little is known by people working outside the realm of Logistics. Two weeks ago I served jury duty. While sitting in the jury selection/waiting room, I struck up conversations with 2 very sharp people. One was a retired engineer that had spent most of his life in the textile industry. Another was a very well informed person from the woodworking industry. Neither of them were aware that there were any issues with the ports. I find it most interesting that the retired person from the textile industry was not familiar, due to globalization greatly affected his industry. But, once one retires, it would be somewhat expected that one would lose touch.
The other experience was in my Homeowner’s Association Board Meeting. I serve as Secretary. The other members of our Board include a Plumbing Contractor/Engineer, a Financial Specialist, an IT/Computer Network Specialist, a Real Estate Agent and our Association Manager. Making some small talk before our meeting I spoke a little about the situation. None were familiar with the situation. In fact, the IT/Computer remarked that it had taken 25 days for him to receive a part that he had to order from China. He remarked “and that was express!” But I gathered that it was not air freight due to he had been offered that as an option but it was too expensive. I didn’t go into a lot of detail but mentioned to him that it was almost nothing short of a miracle that it had arrived so quickly.
Please note that I have a tremendous amount of respect for each one of these people. It is simply an observation that the news of the issues out West have not hit the mainstream press. So at least in the Eastern part of the country the information has been slow to trickle out. I expect that to change dramatically in the coming days.
For 2 excellent articles about the situation, please see this link from Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/r-shippers-suspend-weekend-cargo-loading-at-us-west-coast-ports-2015-2 and http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-02-05/catastrophic-shutdown-americas-supply-chain-looms-west-coast-port-worker-talks-break