This seems like a story that should be getting a little more attention. I talked to someone this morning who works for a manufacturing firm and they've been having weekly meetings on this for 3 months. They've built up an extra month's inventory just in case, but since every day of strike means about 7 days of backup in the ports, that one month's supply would only be good if the strike lasted for less than about 5 days. Finding alternate routes is difficult, both because other companies will be doing the same thing and the fact that some of their product could freeze if the shipping route goes too far north.
President Barack Obama is facing pressure to intervene and prevent a strike that would gridlock eastern U.S. ports and risk damaging industries from retail to manufacturing.
Federal mediators have been pushing for a deal between dockworkers and their employers before a Dec. 29 deadline. Talks between the International Longshoremen’s Association and the U.S. Maritime Alliance broke down last week amid a dispute over so-called container royalty fees, or levies that supplement wages.
A walkout would be the first at East Coast and Gulf Coast ports since 1977, and would halt shipments of containerized cargo, including clothing, frozen foods and car parts. Obama would be left to choose between forsaking a pro-labor stance by invoking the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act and allowing a union action that could compound the effects of the fiscal cliff.