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Repost: West Coast Port Worker Union Negotiations: Current Status and Potential Supply Chain Impacts

Posted on Oct 16 2022

 This is a repost from a recent article published by EPA:

Current Status

Since May 10, 2022, labor negotiations have been ongoing between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which represents more than 22,000 West Coast port workers, and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents port terminals and ocean carriers. The previous agreement between the two sides expired on July 1, 2022, but operations have continued during ongoing negotiations.  

President Biden met with the ILWU and the PMA in June in Los Angeles, and the White House has continued to observe negotiations. If negotiations are unsuccessful, the president could be forced to enact the Taft-Hartley Act, a Cold War-era law that allows the government to call for an 80-day cool-down period amid labor impasses. 

Recent News Reports  

Potential Impact on Water/Wastewater System Supply Chains 

If labor negotiations between the ILWU and the PMA are unsuccessful, disruptions in West Coast port operations may take place. This could cause diversion of shipments to other U.S. ports, which could result in significant backups at those ports and longer container dwell times. These conditions would impact the inbound shipments of raw materials and other products that could cause disruptions in water and wastewater system supply chains.  

How to Prepare for Potential Supply Chain Disruptions 

Contact your primary supplier. Discuss potential impacts and timelines of any port operation disruptions on deliveries of critical chemicals to your system. Also, emphasize the importance of consistent deliveries of those chemicals for your system to maintain operations. If your system does not have a contract with the supplier, consider establishing one specifically for your system or as part of a consortium or co-op arrangement with other systems. Having a contract with your supplier will put your system in the best possible position to manage future supply chain disruptions. 

Contact alternate suppliers. Use the Chemical Suppliers and Manufacturers Locator Tool to identify alternate suppliers in your region. Contact the companies, emphasize the importance of consistent deliveries of critical treatment chemicals for your system to maintain operations, and discuss the possibility of the companies providing support if your system’s primary supplier is unable to satisfy your system’s needs.  

Identify mutual aid and assistance opportunities. Join your Water and Wastewater Agency Response Network (WARN) and contact other mutual aid networks and nearby water/wastewater systems directly to discuss arrangements for receiving assistance in the event of a supply chain disruption.  

Access EPA resources. Visit to access resources your system can use to prepare for, or respond to, a potential supply chain disruption.