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Larry Thomas

Los Angeles port shutdown could spell trouble for shippers

LOS ANGELES — A walkout by a small clerks union has all but shut down the big California ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, making furniture importers nervous about potential delays in shipments.

The walkout began Wednesday at a single terminal, but has spread to 10 of the 14 terminals at the two ports as unionized dockworkers and truckers are honoring the clerks' union picket lines.

"If this does not end quickly, we could be in for a long haul, and it could spread to other ports and terminals," said Chad Rosenberg, president of American Global Logistics. "If it goes past this weekend, there could be a large backup (of freight)."

Bill Smith, vice president of sales and marketing at Globe Express Services, said most of his company's furniture industry customers have a reasonably good supply of inventory because they stocked up in September in anticipation of a possible strike by East Coast dockworkers.

However, a West Coast port shutdown could create problems fairly quickly, he cautioned, noting that two large cargo ships already have been diverted from Los Angeles to other ports since the walkout began.

"A two-day event becomes a two-week problem," Smith said. "It creates all kinds of headaches for shippers and freight forwarders."

Click here to read a Los Angeles Times story about the shutdown.

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