West Coast Ports: CBP Establishes Procedures in the Event of a July 1st Strike

June 24, 2014 | U.S. Customs and Border Protection today released interim procedures to help trade stakeholders in developing contingency plans in the event of a possible strike that would cause major delays of vessel cargo arriving and departing from west coast ports.

Webinar Reminder
Beyond the Ports: Customs and Border Protection Enforcement will be held this Thursday, June 26 at 3 p.m. (Eastern). The educational session will provide toy industry stakeholders with a view of CBP and CPSC enforcement and trade facilitation activities at U.S. ports of entry. The webinar is free for TIA members; $49 for non-members.  

As previously reported, if ongoing labor negotiations between the International Longshore Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) extend beyond the July 1st expiration date of the current contract, a shutdown or strike could occur on the west coast, which handles an estimated 45% of all U.S. imports.

A shutdown would cost the U.S. economy an estimated $1 billion per day and would have a detrimental impact on the toy industry, especially leading up to the busy pre-holiday shipping season.

CBP’s general vessel, cargo and entry guidelines were developed to help facilitate the movement of cargo at all port locations that could be impacted by a strike next week. The procedures account for several scenarios, including what to do when: a U.S.-bound vessel is diverted to a foreign port to discharge freight; a vessel is intended for one west coast port but, due to work stoppage, cannot discharge and diverts to a different U.S. west coast port; a vessel is diverted through the Panama Canal for discharge at a gulf or east coast port; or a vessel arrives in the intended port but rests at anchor until freight can be discharged. [View CBP’s interim procedures document, available for download online]

CBP will publish notices on the Unified Business Resumption site when and if the interim procedures go into effect and when they are terminated and normal processing resumes; information will also be disseminated through the Cargo Systems Messaging Service (CSMS).  The guidelines were developed in cooperation with trade stakeholders and take into consideration CBP system capabilities. Trade members are encouraged to work closely with local CBP port management to ensure compliance with all policies and procedures.

The Toy Industry Association (TIA) has called for a swift resolution to the ILWU/PMA negotiations; however, in the event of a strike, TIA encourages members to develop contingency plans for shipments scheduled to arrive through the ports in question. Disruptions may be at least partially avoided by conducting a thorough review of supply chains and options to divert cargo through alternate ports in Canada, Mexico or the east/gulf coast ports of the U.S.

TIA will keep members apprised of developments as the July 1st deadline approaches. Questions on this topic may be directed to Rebecca Mond, TIA director of federal government affairs.