Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Trouble Pulls Into Port If ILA Strikes

Those of you awaiting the remainder of my commentary from last weekend's Money Show need to wait one more day.  I'd like to take this opportunity to mention how a likely slowdown in port activity is about to put the final nail in the coffin tipping the U.S. economy back into recession.

The ILA is about to authorize a strike by its port workers.  The specific port where the strike starts isn't relevant because of the ILA's reach across the East and Gulf Coasts.  This is very bad news for retailers who need to stock up on inventory prior to the Christmas shopping season.  Union greed is once again putting America's international trade in a headlock.

The lesson of a similar strike in 2002 on the West Coast was that shipping traffic could be diverted from West Coast ports to the East and Gulf.  Port operators in the West plan to reverse that flow this time around but they shouldn't count their chickens before they're hatched.  Remember the Occupy movement's success in shutting down the Port of Oakland?  This is a national election year and Occupy hasn't gone away.  The two busiest West Coast ports are Oakland and Long Beach but California's electoral votes are not going to be seriously contested this time (it's a lock for the incumbent).  That won't matter much to Occupiers.  The movement still has heavy union support and can easily be mobilized again to send a political message.

A union hand in an Occupy glove remains a risk to the U.S. retail supply chain.  It can easily metastasize into a live threat.  An ILA East/Gulf strike combined with West Coast port agitation could mean a very "blue Christmas" for retailers.