Consider what might happen if dockworkers and shipping companies from East Coast ports can't come to terms by Dec. 29, when the current contract expires. A total of 14 container ports from Maine to the Gulf of Mexico could be affected - and there are no great alternatives for diverting traffic. Union officials are set to meet with the Maritime Alliance and federal mediators on Monday. From the WSJ:
East Coast importers are likely to face increased use of air freight, which is more expensive, or so-called slow-steaming of ocean freight in hopes of goods arriving after a strike has ended. Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, said the bulk of his group's members are focused primarily on getting through the U.S. holiday season. But a strike that idled container terminals all along the East Coast early in the new year would be "a huge concern." "Replenishing the store inventories is a constant process," Mr. Hurst said. "I would hope that cooler heads would prevail" and a strike will be averted.