Supply chain plan announced; OOIDA says detention must be addressed

October 13, 2021

Mark Schremmer

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In an effort to address disruptions in the supply chain, the White House announced a plan to move toward 24/7 operations at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The announcement was part of a virtual meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 13, with Vice President Kamala Harris and stakeholders. The increase in hours at the ports is being done with the goal of moving more goods faster and to strengthen the resiliency of the supply chain.

“These two ports are the point of entry for 40% of containers to the U.S. and are on track to reach new highs in container traffic this year,” a White House fact sheet stated. “Through August, Los Angeles has moved 30% more and Long Beach over 20% more containers to help U.S. exporters reach customers around the world and U.S. families and factories get the goods they need.”

President Joe Biden delivered remarks Wednesday afternoon about the steps being taken.

“We’re going to speed up the delivery of goods all across America,” Biden said.

Several large companies also announced plans to expand hours to move more cargo off the docks. Those companies include Walmart, UPS, FedEx, Samsung, The Home Depot and Target. Across these six companies, the White House said more than 3,500 additional containers per week will move at night through the end of the year.

“Unlike leading ports around the world, U.S. ports have failed to realize the full possibility offered by operation on nights and weekends,” the White House wrote. “Moving goods during off-peak hours can help move goods out of ports faster. For example, at the Port of Los Angeles, goods move 25% faster at night than during the day. These commitments will help unlock capacity in the rest of the system including highways, railroads and warehouses by reducing congestion during the day.

OOIDA response

OOIDA President Todd Spencer issued a response to Wednesday’s supply chain meeting, calling out such hurdles as detention time and a lack of truck parking.

“Truckers have been working tirelessly to keep the country safe and productive throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” Spencer wrote. “They have already been operating around the clock but are often restricted by factors beyond their control, such as excessive detention time and the lack of readily available, safe parking for their trucks. These problems must finally be addressed if the administration hopes to implement any significant supply chain solutions.”

Moving to a 24/7 model won’t fix many of the problems that truckers face, Spencer said.

“Most of what we are seeing is not a surprise to our members, who have been plagued with dysfunction in the supply chain for decades, and it’s not realistic to expect the supply chain will suddenly operate efficiently on a 24/7 schedule when drivers aren’t being fully paid for their time.”

OOIDA has previously called for the repeal of the truck driver overtime exemption in the Fair Labor Standards Act so that drivers are paid for all of the time they spend on duty.

Spencer also emphasized that the current supply chain issues have nothing to do with a shortage of truck drivers. Claims of a truck driver shortage have lasted for decades, and OOIDA has refuted those claims for just as long.

“But let’s be clear, the current supply chain crisis is not due to a shortage of truck drivers,” Spencer wrote. “Because the real bottlenecks in the supply chain occur at pickup and delivery points, adding more trucks and drivers will simply make the lines longer, not faster.”

Making sure that drivers are paid for all of the hours they work is the best way to end many of the supply chain disruptions, OOIDA says.

“Every region of our country and segment of our economy relies upon long-haul truck drivers, and it’s time both the government and the trucking industry begin treating them as essential workers,” Spencer wrote. “We support the administration’s efforts to improve the quality of trucking jobs, but this must start with valuing and compensating all of a driver’s time.” LL

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Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.