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  • Writer's pictureStephen Fodor

Ports face traffic jams, seek early vaccine access and Covid relief

Monday Morning Wake Up Call

December 14, 2020

As e-commerce booms, U.S. ports face traffic jams

E-commerce has been booming through the pandemic, and this will be an especially big week for online shopping, with Black Friday coming up. Of course, more e-commerce means more imports. And more imports have led to many of the country’s big ports being backed up, with container ships idling offshore as they wait to come into port to be unloaded. Now, the Federal Maritime Commission says it’s launching an investigation into the causes of that congestion. As the economy has picked up during the pandemic, Dale Rogers, professor of business at the supply chain management department at Arizona State University, said many importers have been desperate to offload goods they didn’t sell earlier this year.

As the U.S. vaccine rollout begins, port workers ask for early access

As the virus surges, outbreaks are starting to re-emerge in ports across the United States.

In interviews with over a dozen longshoremen, their families and maritime officials at multiple ports in the country, all urged government officials to recognize the essential nature of longshore work and protect individuals from conditions that make it ripe for the virus to spread.

They say longshore workers should be provided rapid testing and early access to the vaccine so they can remain on the job and prevent outbreaks from shutting the nation’s ports.

“We’re hidden,” said Kenneth Riley, the president of the local longshoremen’s union in Charleston, S.C. “But if you think some of the store shelves were empty as we got into this pandemic, let these ports shut down and see how empty they’ll be.”

U.S. ports request $3.5 billion in COVID-19 relief funds

(Security Magazine) In a joint plea to Congressional leadership and Treasury Secretary Steven Munchin this week, the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA) — the unified and collective voice of America’s seaports — and a host of other maritime transportation entities, asked that $3.5 billion in COVID-19 relief funding be made available for the U.S. maritime transportation sector, citing “significant hardships” and “unique and unexpected challenges” posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The letters ask Congress and the Administration to take immediate action to provide the whole of the maritime transportation system with the resources necessary to combat the virus and ensure the safety and security of the industry’s sizable workforce. According to the AAPA, more than 650,000 port workers are on the “COVID frontlines.”

“America’s maritime transportation system, including its ports and their direct workforce, have kept essential goods moving to medical professionals, first responders and vital manufacturing, distribution and retail businesses during the pandemic,” said AAPA President and CEO Christopher J. Connor. “Their dedication and perseverance has enabled commerce to continue flowing during a time of great risk, upheaval, stress and greatly increased costs, allowing millions of Americans to safely and comfortably work from home.

Connor noted that while recent news reports show a resurgence of trade at some of country’s largest container ports, “the truth is that most ports are still suffering financially, particularly those that handle non-containerized goods, like steel, grain and other bulk commodities. Even most container ports have large business portfolios that include handling critical, but poorer performing commodities that put a financial drag on their ability to pay the added costs of protecting their workers.”

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