So far the Macintosh market doesn’t seem to be affected by the lockout of union longshoremen at 29 West Coast ports, but that could change.
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The 10,500-member International Longshore and Warehouse Union, who have been working without a contract since July 1, has denied slowing shipments as a negotiating tactic. Federal mediation has failed to end the dispute, which means that imported products are slowing to a crawl.
The association and the union have been arguing over labor issues since May, with dockworkers pushing for improved pensions and benefits. Most importantly, perhaps, the union wants to control any new jobs that might be created during the introduction of high-tech cargo-handling methods, according to the
San Diego Union-Tribune . Union leaders worry that new technologies could threaten the job security of their members, the article said.
Companies as Nissan, Gap, Wal-Mart, Toyota and BMW have been scrambling to change their supply lines and sales plans because of the lockout. The dispute is estimated to be costing the US economy as much as US$1 billion a day. A Reuters
report notes that about 70 percent of all toys sold in the US are manufactured in China and arrive here via Western U.S. ports.
Since the problem is less than a week old, it doesn’t seem to be impacting Mac users yet, but if it continues it could get ugly. The interesting ripple effect is for Apple’s online and retail stores. For instance,
Dr. Bott LLC, which makes and/or distributes a variety of Mac peripherals, has a 20-foot container of Marware SportFolios waiting for the Port of Portland to open again.
“We’ve got enough stock so there aren’t any serious issues yet, but quickly we’ll be seeing problems if the ports aren’t opened again,” Dr. Bott CEO Eric Prentice said. “Our only alternative is to have some product shipped via air, but that can make the difference between making money and losing money when the freight costs are six to 14 times sea freight costs. Also, most manufacturing is paid up front. I’m sure there are companies who have product sitting that they have already paid for. When they can’t get the product to sell that can lead the cash crunches pretty quickly.”
And many times Apple has larger orders that are set for “ship complete,” which means even the smallest accessory can hold up a larger order including computer systems.