LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – In an effort to address the growing supply chain crisis caused by the cargo ship bottleneck, President Joe Biden announced Wednesday a deal in which the Port of Los Angeles will begin operating 24 hours a day.
“Today I’m announcing that the Port of LA will begin operating around the clock 24/7 to make sure Americans can get the goods they need,” Biden tweeted. “My Administration is working around the clock to move more goods faster and strengthen the resiliency of our supply chains.”
A similar plan will also likely also to move forward for the Port of Long Beach, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The two ports are responsible for nearly half of all imports into the U.S.
Under the plan, the Port of L.A. will nearly double the number of hours that cargo is transferred from container ships to trucks, the Times reports. The goal is to process and unload 3,500 extra containers during the night each week.
“It’s not going to solve anything,” said Francisco Medina, a truck driver. “Even if you’re there 24 hours working it’s gonna be even worse. Why? Because it’s gonna be more people coming in the terminal who are just gonna sit there. It’s just ridiculous.”
As part of the deal, major shippers such as Walmart, FedEx, UPS, Samsung, Home Depot and Target have agreed to speed up operations to clear cargo out of the ports, the Times reports.
Dozens of cargo ships have been anchored offshore from the ports of L.A. and Long Beach for weeks. There were 58 container ships reported offshore as of Tuesday morning. That is down from a reported peak of 73 container ships offshore two weeks ago.
The bottleneck is creating major delays, leading to a spike in shipping costs and hurting thousands of small businesses. Last week, officials said there could be as many as half-a-million shipping containers on cargo ships off the ports of L.A. and Long Beach, waiting to be offloaded. The logjam is due partly to the shortage of warehouse workers and truck drivers to pick up goods.
“This is unprecedented, never seen anything as far as the amount of work that there is right now, never seen anything like it,” Duane Martinez with International Longshore and Warehouse Union 94 told CBSLA Wednesday.
Martinez’s union represents foremen at the Port of L.A. He said his workers have always been willing to work around the clock in an effort to keep up with demand, but says his workers cannot do this alone.
“Truckers have to work and the warehouses have to work,” Martinez said. “We need the railroads on board as well. Everyone needs to be on board for this to work. We’re at the beginning of it when a ship comes to us.”
Federal investigators, meanwhile, are also looking into whether the bottleneck played a role in causing the oil spill earlier this month off the Huntington Beach coastline.
(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)