The nationwide port schedule app Pier Trucker showed terminals that looked like ghost towns Sunday with barren traffic lanes as extra cargo ships continued to accumulate along the coastlines of Los Angeles and Orange counties. On Friday, 88 ships were expected to arrive at either Long Beach or Los Angeles harbors — 10 other ships from the last count on Oct. 13, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California.
Port officials say they are running with terminal operators to build the open gate times. Still, waterfront labor negotiator Jim Tessier, who has worked on behalf of both longshoremen and their union, says it is all about money because shipping companies run the terminals.
"Most shipping companies are foreign and did not attend Biden's briefing and don't care about what he or the landlord think," Tessier said. "The port has nothing to do with all the operations — they are the landlord. How involved is your landlord in your business?"
Tessier said the shippers' sign contracts that span decades and typically do not open weekends because the additional pay for dockers is pricey. Hourly pay is 1.3 times the regular rate at night and 1.5 on weekends, he said.
"Historically, the industry has not been willing to pay that money," Tessier added.
Nevertheless, Port of Long Beach spokesman Lee Peterson said the port is a stakeholder in the process, and discussions continue to raise trucker access to cargo.
"We are working closely with the terminal operators to address the issue," Peterson said. "We lockstep with them and see how we can make the system work to address the backlog."
Last weekend, five of Los Angeles' six terminals were open during the day on Saturday and none at night. According to charts for the two ports in Long Beach, two terminals were available Saturday during the day. Next weekend seems to be a copy of last weekend.
Biden announced last week that "the Port of Los Angeles will open — over 60 extra hours a week it will be open."
"We need to start looking at this as a national security issue and need to be more reliant on American-made products so we aren't beholden to ports, shipping lines, and China," said Rep. Doug LaMalfa, a Republican on the Highway and Transit Subcommittee. "In the meantime, we need to solve this problem. I'm disappointed in Biden saying for a month now that he would get [ports] open. What is the bottleneck and how do you fix it?"