The possibility of a nationwide freight railroad strike is increasing after another union turned down a tentative agreement that was negotiated in mid-September among the major Class I carriers, a management council and the Biden administration.
The International Brotherhood of Boilermakers voted down the agreement, according to the union and the railroads. The precise vote was not made available.
While the union is the smallest of the bargaining units with only about 300 workers who repair and rebuild diesel locomotives, if any union votes to go on strike and picket lines are set up, it is expected the more than 115,000 workers, including locomotive engineers and conductors, would honor the strike.
Imports into the nation’s busiest container port complex in Southern California are plummeting as U.S. trade sputters and retailers and manufacturers shift their supply chains amid increasingly contentious West Coast port labor negotiations.
The neighboring ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach handled 630,231 loaded inbound containers in October, down 26% from the same month a year ago and the lowest volume of goods coming into the ports since May 2020.
Gene Seroka, the executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, said Tuesday that the biggest factor in the cargo declines, which began in August, is that importers are moving more of their goods to East Coast and Gulf Coast ports “due to protracted labor negotiations.”
America and China remain intimately intertwined via trade despite worsening tensions over Taiwan and the Russia-Ukraine war. More than a third of all U.S. containerized imports arrive from China. More than a sixth of China’s export value derives from U.S. purchases.
But there are growing signs of at least some decoupling. In recent months, America’s imports from China have fallen faster than total imports. Other Asian countries are increasingly taking U.S. market share from China, a trend that began before the pandemic and has continued.
According to new data from Descartes, U.S. containerized imports in October were flat (up 0.2%) versus September. But imports from China fell 5.5% month on month, by 45,071 twenty-foot equivalent units. The decline from China was entirely offset by gains from Thailand, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan and other countries.