Above the Fold: Supply Chain Logistics News (June 16, 2023)

When my father finally got to leave Cuba in the late 60s, he flew first to Miami and then a few days later arrived in Brooklyn, NY to stay with his brother. When my uncle went to work the next morning, my father went for a long walk through the city streets, taking in all the sights and sounds of his new home. 

He came back to the apartment a little confused. When my uncle arrived from work, he asked my father about his day. “It’s incredible,” he said, “so many people, so many cars, so many buildings.” Then he added, “But I don’t understand why a country so modern and advanced like the U.S. would put their staircases on the outside of their buildings instead of inside.”

My father died in 2008, but to this day, I can’t walk by a building with a fire escape without thinking of my father and smiling.

To all you fathers out there, I wish you Happy Father’s Day.

Moving on, here’s the supply chain and logistics news that caught my attention this week:

When One Disruption is Averted, Another Emerges

What a difference a week makes.

Last Friday, I wrote about the labor-related disruptions at the West Coast ports as contentious negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) employer group continued. 

By the end of this week, however, it appears the two sides have reached a tentative agreement on a new 6-year contract. As reported by Reuters, “The deal was reached with assistance from Acting U.S. Labor Secretary Julie Su…The agreement, covering workers at ports stretching from California to Washington State, is subject to ratification by both parties.”

There’s always a chance one of the parties fails to ratify the agreement (see what happened with the rail labor negotiations last November, when 4 unions voted down an agreement reached with help from the White House too), but the general consensus is that a strike will be averted.

Road transportation on the East Coast, however, took a turn for the worse. A deadly accident in Philadelphia last Sunday caused a section of I-95 to collapse. According to the American Trucking Association, as reported by 6ABC, about 8-9% of vehicles that pass through that portion of the highway are commercial trucks. That is about 14,000 trucks per day. “Those vehicles are now subject to more than 40 miles of detour, a detour that is mostly non-Interstate highway with more than 60 traffic lights,” the ATA spokesperson said. “This will add significant cost in time, fuel and delays so we urge state and federal agencies to target appropriate resources to repairing and replacing this highway as quickly as possible.”

The good news is that work is progressing quickly to repair the damage. That said, the most optimistic outlook is for the road to reopen sometime in July. So, we’re talking about weeks of detours and congestion. Driving on I-95 is always a nightmare, especially near big cities like Philadelphia. If you’re driving through there in the weeks ahead, bring a little extra patience with you.

And with that, have a happy weekend!

Song of the Week: “Empty Nest” by Silversun Pickups