LOS ANGELES — As the strike at the nation’s busiest ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach reached day six on Monday, the current and projected economic impact weighed on those in the industry.
With operations at 10 of the 14 cargo container terminals shut down, about a dozen container ships sat offshore over the weekend, unable to unload or load cargo. Another 10 ships were scheduled to arrive Monday.
Each ship carries about five warehouses’ worth of goods. Based on last year’s estimates, about $1 billion a day in freight normally moves through the ports at this time of year. Last year, the two ports handled about 40 percent of the total value of all cargo container imports entering the U.S.
Apart from the impact on national retail, the strike is considered potentially disastrous for the Southern California economy because the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are crucial to the region’s trucking and transport industry, which employs about 595,000 people.
Economists have placed the impact at about $1 billion a day in forfeited worker pay, missing revenue for truckers and other businesses, and the value of the cargo that has been diverted to other ports including Oakland, Calif.; Mexico, and the Panama Canal.
Others believe the figure is inflated and caution that the immediate impact on the retail industry could be manageable.
“The immediate impact should be minor if it lasts only a week. Of course, it’s a negative to lose port- and transportation-related wages each day, but in terms of wider impact in retail, most businesses have received most of their Christmas inventory and are not going to close shop,” said Esmael Adibi, director for the Anderson Center for Economic Research at Chapman University. “If it lasts longer than two weeks, it could affect retailers with lean inventory and production processes that depend on parts or nonfinished goods on the ships.”
“The shutdown is already having a significant negative economic impact on retailers trying to bring in merchandise for their final push for holiday sales and will soon have an impact on consumers. The work stoppage not only impacts retailers, but is also affecting their product vendors — many of which are small businesses — and other industries like manufacturers and agricultural exporters that rely on the ports.…A protracted strike will ultimately result in higher prices at the very time we can least afford it. This strike is now at the national emergency stage impacting industries far and wide,” Shay said.
“We’re taking it day by day. Each day that ships linger with our goods on them, it creates a backlog,” said Kelly Kolb, vice president of government affairs at RILA, adding that they have not yet received a response from the White House. “Each of our members is working through their advertised sales to see what products being advertised are sitting on ships right now. A number of our retailers obviously have their holiday goods in stores and distribution centers, but Christmas isn’t the only shopping season. The Super Bowl on Feb. 3 is a big-time TV event, and spring is big for seasonal items like bathing suits, clothes, patio furniture and barbecues. That stuff should be moving in the next couple of weeks if not already.”
Kolb noted that during the 10-day Los Angeles ports strike in 2002, it was estimated that it took retailers one week to recover for every day of the strike.
Although talks between the 800-member International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63 Office Clerical Unit (OCU) and the Harbor Employers Association continued over the weekend, the two groups are still at odds. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Monday called for round-the-clock bargaining with the help of a mediator.
“This cannot continue,” Villaraigosa wrote in a letter to John Fageaux Jr., president of the OCU, and Stephen L. Berry, chief negotiator for the employers group. He noted that the strike is “costing our local economy billions of dollars.”
Until it launched the strike last week, the union was working without a contract since June 30, 2010. At issue is the OCU’s concern of losing jobs through attrition without new hires to replace them, and fear that employers will outsource new jobs to nonunion workers.
The current strike by the clerical workers has crippled the ports because of support from the ILWU dockworkers, who have 50,000 members on the U.S. West Coast and in Hawaii and Canada. The dockworkers negotiate their contracts separately, but the 10,000 members who work at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports have honored the clerical unit’s picket lines.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast