Impact of West Coast shutdown could top $20 billion

Laura Anthony Image
ByLaura Anthony KGO logo
Friday, February 20, 2015
Impact of West Coast shutdown could top $20 billion
The National Association of Manufacturers estimates a 10-day West Coast port shutdown could cost $20 billion.

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The economic impact of the work slowdown at ports up and down the West Coast is beginning to add up.

The National Association of Manufacturers -- whose members import and export a lot of products -- estimates a 10-day shutdown could cost $20 billion.

The ports have already been closed for five of the past seven days. Workers weren't working at the Port of Oakland Thursday because the longshoremen were going to attend their monthly union meeting.

For the fifth, out of the past eight days, the Port of Oakland was completely shut down.

"We have 73,000 people whose jobs rely on the Port of Oakland," Mayor of Oakland Libby Schaaf said.

It's a reality not lost on Schaaf who attended an economic summit Thursday with San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.

"We know that we may permanently loose business to our West Coast ports. This business could easily go to Vancouver, to Mexico, to ports on the gulf," Schaaf said.

George Vukasin Jr. and his family own Peerless Coffee in Oakland. He is a roaster who relies on imported beans that almost all arrive by ship. He says many in the coffee industry are already looking for alternatives, which could become permanent.

"I can't roast air. I need beans," Vukasin said. "I think you're going to see how coffee comes to the United States change pretty dramatically, sadly. And it's going to veer away from the West Coast Ports and it's going to go to Houston or to the East Coast ports."

Tony Meneghetti is with the Timbuk2, a company that makes messenger bags and backpacks in San Francisco.

"It's having a major negative impact on our business. We've had our new 2015 product sitting on boats outside the Golden Gate for almost three weeks now," Meneghetti said.

Mike's Bikes in Walnut Creek is also feeling the pinch. Almost all the brands they carry comes from Asia.

"We've heard cases where the items are at the port, sitting there. Everything is all good, but we just need to be a little more patient," J.P. Rutledge from Mike's Bikes said.

The agriculture transportation industry is also speaking up. More than 500 companies sent a letter to California's congressional delegation urging them to put more pressure on the parties to settle their differences.