Biden to Address Supply Chain Logjam: Expanded Port Hours, Extra Shifts for Longshoremen

By Susan Jones | October 13, 2021 | 6:55am EDT
A cargo ship filled with containers docks at the Port of Los Angeles on September 28, 2021. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
A cargo ship filled with containers docks at the Port of Los Angeles on September 28, 2021. (Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

( - As supply chain disruptions make national headlines, leaving American businesses with fewer imported products to sell, President Biden today will meet with leaders of the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, where ships wait offshore for room to unload their cargo, and cargo containers stack up on the docks, awaiting trucks to move the goods.

The White House announcement said Biden "knew there would be massive economic challenges emerging from the pandemic," and his administration "acted quickly" to get relief checks to Americans and shots in arms.

But aside from launching the "Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force" in June, Biden has not addressed the logjam at America's large ports, which has a cascading economic impact because so many things are not "made in America" anymore.

According to a fact sheet released early Wednesday:

Today, the Administration is convening business leaders, port leaders, and union leaders to discuss the challenges at ports across the country and actions each partner can take to address the delays and congestion across the transportation supply chain. And the President will meet with the leadership from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) to discuss the actions they are each taking to address these challenges in Southern California.

These leaders are announcing a series of public and private commitments to move more goods faster, and strengthen the resiliency of our supply chains, by moving towards 24/7 operations at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

These two ports are the point of entry for 40 percent of containers to the U.S., and are on track to reach new highs in container traffic this year. Through August, Los Angeles has moved 30% more and Long Beach over 20% more containers to help U.S. exporters reach customers around the world and U.S families and factories get the goods they need.

The commitments include:

-- The Port of Los Angeles is expanding to 24/7 operation, adding new off-peak night time shifts and weekend hours.

-- The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has announced its members are willing to work those extra shifts. This will add needed capacity to put towards clearing existing backlogs.

-- Large companies (Walmart, UPS, FedEx, Samsung, The Home Depot, and Target) are announcing they will use expanded nighttime hours to move more cargo off the docks, so ships can come to shore faster.   

The fact sheet says those six companies will move 3,500 additional containers every week, working at night.

"Those boxes contain toys, appliances, bicycles, and furniture that Americans purchased online or at their local small business, and pieces and parts that are sent to U.S. factories for our workers to assemble into products. And this is just a start -- these commitments provide a clear market signal to the other businesses along the transportation supply chain—rails, trucks, and warehouses -- that there is demand to move additional cargo at off-peak hours."

Nowhere does the announcement mention efforts to move the supply chain back to the United States, as some members of Congress want to do.

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