If we did not already have enough to worry about when it comes to global sourcing supply risk, we can now add a new -- well, old, but that's another story -- category into the mix: six figure strikers. That's right -- the California dockworkers are once again flexing their six-figure muscle. According to a recent story in The Trucker (hat-tip World Trade), "West Coast shippers said … that dockworkers at three California ports are intentionally slowing cargo movement and causing shipping delays as the two sides continue to negotiate a new contract. For nearly two weeks, workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have been taking coordinated breaks and working slower." For those who are not familiar with the dockworkers this article, now six years old, has got some great facts and figures lest you begin to sympathize with these slowdown actions.
Just to name a few: Last time there was a strike, the dockworkers refused average salary increases to $114,500 and $137,500 depending on role. And in 2002, the cost of benefits was in excess of $40,000 per dockworker per year. Today, I'm estimating that the total compensation and benefits package for a dockworker is close to $200,000 per year -- maybe more. Of course there’s a great irony in this. And that’s that the workers across the Pacific in China are making 1/20th of this amount to do the same job. A metaphor for how union muscle has made the US uncompetitive in the world market for all but the highest value-added goods? I think so.
- Jason Busch