Manpower shortage at Honolulu Harbor as West Coast dispute continues

Local News

While the dock dispute continues on the West Coast, there is now a situation developing in Honolulu that could further delay cargo deliveries here in the islands.

Last week, KHON2 reported on the decision by the shipping carriers to temporarily suspend loading and off-loading at docks from Seattle to San Diego. This comes as management is locked in a contract dispute with International Longshore and Warehouse Union longshoremen.

Now, sources tell KHON2 that there is also a manpower shortage at Honolulu Harbor.

On Monday, there was a line of trucks delivering cargo to inter-island cargo carrier Young Brothers. The drivers can work because the crane operators were back at work at Honolulu Harbor.

On Sunday, Matson Navigation says workers opted not to show up to unload the ships, which is an option allowed in the local contract.

That was a problem for Armstrong Produce, which relies on on-time delivering of fruits and vegetables.

KHON2 discussed an optional day off for ILWU workers here with Tish Uyehara, Armstrong’s marketing director. “That is what we’ve been made to understand, but we were not made aware of that ahead of time,” she said.

Even though cranes were off-loading cargo Monday, KHON2 was told by one freight delivery service that there appeared to be not enough workers at the docks to clear the work-load of two container ships. The harbor is expected to get busier with the arrival of two more ships in the coming days.

The ILWU could not be reached for comment.

Merchants have been dealing with delays in cargo deliveries for the past three months. KHON2 came across yet another complaint, this time at City Mill.

“We’re definitely seeing the delays as well,” said Sandra Hee, store manager for City Mill in Iwilei. “We’ve been trying to anticipate some of it by by ordering a little bit extra, trying to increase it so we don’t run out of stuff.”

When asked how long City Mill has been putting up with delays, Hee said “probably the last three or four weeks, and a delay of up to a week on some stuff.”

The company’s warehouse and distribution center in Iwilei takes in goods for eight City Mill stores and two Simply Organized retail outlets.

Contract talks on the West Coast between the Pacific Maritime Association and the ILWU union resume Wednesday.

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