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West Coast Dock Dispute Ends

New York – A tentative contract agreement has been reached between West Coast dock employers and the dockworkers union on Saturday evening.

The dispute, which shutdown ports in the region for ten-days in October and resulted in delays of products earmarked for retailers for the holiday season as well as critical CE parts for U.S. factories, was settled with a six-year contract stressing issues such as implementing technology and maintaining health benefits.

According to a variety of CE industry sources, by the time the agreement was reached the impact of the ten-day shutdown and work slowdown had begun to recede. Many manufacturers anticipated the labor debacle and began shipping products and parts from Asia through Canadian or Mexican ports, while others who needed to get goods in for the fourth quarter began expensive air shipments.

While a tentative settlement has been reached, industry insiders say that spot inventory problems will remain for several weeks as certain product categories and suppliers, who rely on Asian factories more than others, will have problems meeting commitments.

The relief on the part of many in the industry is that deliveries for the second and third most lucrative months of the year for consumer electronics sales – January and February – will not be effected by a second port shutdown.

At the time of the shutdown in October the Consumer Electronics Association claimed that $22 billion in CE sales were in jeopardy (TWICE, October 14, 2002, p. 1). The shutdown ended when the courts agreed with Justice Department lawyers to reopen the 29 ports under the Taft-Hartley Act.