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July 1, 2023
Lori Ann LaRocco

The International Longshoremen’s Association said it won’t take diverted cargo from ports with striking workers, while the head of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents West Coast port workers in the U.S., made a statement of solidarity with the Canadian union but did not mention any specific action.

The strike could lead to congestion in these ports with longshoremen unable to unload vessels. Congestion can turn into backlogs and lead to delayed pickups from terminals, which can then lead to late fees that are often passed on to consumers — a situation similar to what occurred during the pandemic.

“With the Canadian holiday and July Fourth holidays, the volume of containers moving are lighter than normal but now vessels are not being worked because of the strike,” said Paul Brashire, vice president of drayage and intermodal at ITS Logistics. “If this strike continues into the middle of next week, it will impact congestion in the coming weeks at Chicago and Detroit rail terminals because of the amount of containers that would have built up and eventually moved to those rail terminals.”

The Canadian ports handle nearly $225 billion in cargo each year, according to estimates, with items spanning industries such as home goods, electronics and apparel transported by rail. Approximately 15% of consumer trade going through the Port of Vancouver is headed to or coming from the U.S., according to port authority data. Around two-thirds of containerized import volume going to the Port of Prince Rupert are headed to the U.S., port data shows.

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