Cargo handlers scramble to get goods to Hawaii

Local News

Loading and off-loading of ships resumed Friday at docks on the mainland West Coast, even though both the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union remain deadlocked in a labor dispute.

After they were told not to work Thursday, crane operations resumed at 29 ports from Seattle to San Diego. But management is telling them not to show up for work again on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

For more than a week, KHON2 has been reporting on how congestion at the docks has triggered delays in shipments to Hawaii.

Now, Matson Navigation says that only one of its ships will make it to port next week. The Matson ship Mokihana is scheduled to arrive next Wednesday, but the Maunawili will not make its scheduled stop in Honolulu next Friday.

That ship suffered damage during a storm after it left Honolulu last weekend on its way back to the West Coast, and the company was not able to schedule another ship in time.

Meanwhile, a major freight forwarding company with operations in Honolulu and the West Coast is scrambling to deal with the cargo congestion on the West Coast. Dependable Hawaiian Express has made adjustments to its work schedule both here and at the four major ports on the West Coast–Los Angeles/Long Beach, Oakland, Portland and Seattle.

“We’re having to change our operations, change our times, obviously make adjustments to service our customers accordingly to make sure they don’t see any delays on our part,” said Kane McEwen, vice president of operations in Honolulu. “Our West Coast operations, we’re five days a week and right here, we’re seven days a week on Oahu.”

There are delays on the West Coast because management for the shipping carriers claim that the ILWU dock workers are slow to offload cargo from Asia that first

makes its way by ship to the mainland. That triggers congestion at West Coast ports.

Another freight forwarding company confirmed that the delays largely centers on goods from Asia, delays that sometimes last for weeks.

“All commodities. This is everything from garments, general department store merchandise, consumer electronics, appliances, finished goods of any sort,” said Todd

Hembry, regional manager for Mid-America Overseas, based at the Foreign Trade Zone in Honolulu.

On Friday, both PMA, which represents the shipping carriers, and the ILWU met separately with the federal mediator. The two sides did meet face-to-face briefly, but remain deadlocked on a new contract. The previous contract expired last July.

No new talks have been scheduled.

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