Lazy crane operators making $250,000 a year exacerbating port crisis, truckers say

Thomas Veil

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As we're finding out, there are multiple causes for the current supply chain problem. This here may not be the primary one, but it sure looks significant.

LONG BEACH, California — Crane operators who belong to a powerful union and earn up to $250,000 a year transferring containers from ships to trucks are worsening the supply chain crisis that threatens Christmas by goofing off on the job, frustrated truckers told the Washington Examiner.

The finger-pointing at the busy Los Angeles County ports comes as scores of container ships are anchored off the California coast, waiting in some cases for weeks to unload their freight. The Biden administration has scrambled to get shipping executives, port officials, and labor to tackle the problem. While the reasons for the burgeoning backlog are complex, truck drivers say not everyone seems to be working together.

“In 15 years of doing this job, I’ve never seen them work slower,” said Antonio, who has spent hours waiting at Los Angeles County ports for cargo to be loaded. “The crane operators take their time, like three to four hours to get just one container. You can’t say anything to them, or they will just go [help] someone else.”

It appears if you complain about the problem, there is swift retribution.

“They’ll go get the police and kick you out and tell you to leave,” said trucker Chris. “Then, you get banned from coming back in there.”

Or sometimes, the crane operator will mete out punishment by skipping the trucker and working on someone else, exacerbating the wait.

While three-hour waits are common, some truckers have been at the port for days.

And let's not forget lunch.

Truckers unlucky enough to be waiting around lunchtime will watch as the entire crane crew stops work, instead of staggering their hours.

“They leave for two hours, and you are stuck with no one there,” trucker Brian said.

The ILWU did not respond to two requests for comment.

The article goes on to state that some large retailers are so frustrated they are chartering their own ships.

Now, this article is from the Washington Examiner, a source I sometimes find not reliable. But they seem to be making a pretty good case here. It sounds like a situation that's out of control.

 

Herdfan

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Plenty are articles out there blaming a driver shortage as well.

It is a complicated process to begin with, so any disruption in one area will cascade into others.

I will just say buy your Christmas presents now. If you can find them. Probably going to be lots of disappointed kids come Christmas morning.
 

Thomas Veil

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Yeah, I told my grandkids over a week ago to work on their Christmas gift lists, anticipating something like this. It's gonna be worse than last year...and last year one of the gifts for my grandkids arrived on my doorstep on Christmas Eve. 😬

Truck driver shortages are a part too. The whole chain falls apart so easily, we are now realizing.

It's tempting to blame "just in time" manufacturing for some of this, too, but that doesn't seem to be the issue here. Goods are being manufactured. The issue is tons of boats sitting off the Long Beach docks waiting to deliver them. I'm seeing more and more articles about this. Biden and Buttigieg have their hands full.
 

SuperMatt

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I have been listening to coverage of this on the radio show Marketplace. Here’s a recent story on the issues. I don’t think crane operators are anything other than the target of the shippers’ anger at the moment.

 
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