Congestion at U.S. ports will increase because of railroad and truck strikes

America is facing a double threat of railroad and truck strikes just as there are signs that ports are once again becoming congested on both coasts.

Ongoing negotiations between port workers unions and workers on the U.S. West Coast are also causing nervousness among many involved in supply chains.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has written a letter to President Biden urging him to “help resolve the ongoing labor negotiations between the Class I freight railroads and the twelve railroad unions by following historical precedent and appointing a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) composed of individuals who are impartial, belong to the National Academy of Arbitrators, and have direct experience in resolving railroad disputes.”

“It is imperative that the government act to prevent an interruption of U.S. rail service,” the chamber said.

If President Biden does not institute a PEB on July 18 at 12:01 a.m. EDT, railroads and unions may take action to stop work for the 115,000 affected workers, through a lockout or strike.

A work stoppage would exacerbate congestion at U.S. ports on all coasts and further complicate already overburdened supply chains.

If a PEB is appointed, it will have 30 days to make recommendations to resolve the problems. During that period and for 30 days after the report of the recommendations is released, both parties will be prohibited from stopping operations.

Meanwhile, many truck drivers in California will already be on strike starting today against a new state law, AB5, and strikes are also planned for Monday.

AB5 seeks to limit the use of independent contractors and instead classify them as employees.

The dual threat of road and rail strikes during the holiday season comes at a time when data is becoming available showing increased congestion at the country’s two largest ports, Los Angeles, and Long Beach. The number of import containers waiting more than nine days at both ports has risen this month to the highest number of the year so far. Congestion has also been brewing on the East Coast for many weeks.