The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Overworked Shorthanded Dockworkers

Nov 8, 2021

The twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in California have still been unprecedentedly clogged. These ports are now facing 30% more than usual traffic with about 28% fewer workers, as reported by an online news organization, Insider.

We want to work as much as possible, but the employers don’t want to pay the overtime to get these problems fixed. It’s a balancing act, they want to scrape by with just enough workers, but the more ships that come in, the worse it gets,” a dockworker told Business Insider.

But the dockworker shortage leads to failures and delays at every step of the operation of these ports. The manufacturers abroad won’t stop shipping goods as long as importers continue to order and pay for the deliveries. The companies that operate ports don’t turn the ships away because they earn money from docking fees and unloading containers. And once the goods arrive at the docks, some importers do not want to move containers quickly onto trucks because the importers’ warehouse space is running out. As a result, the dockworker shortage is causing a mess.

Because of this mess, these ports, which have been built to handle 30 to 40 ships, are clogged with 153 ships as of the last week of October. And nearly half a million shipping containers are stuck on the docks. This mass of shipping containers causes much longer delays and chaos, as dockworkers have to waste huge amounts of time hunting for the correct containers to put on trucks and trains, leading to greater delays.

But this mess does not prevent manufacturers, shipping companies, companies operating ports, trucking companies, railways, and retailers from reporting record revenues and skyrocketing profits. These companies continue to run their workers into the ground because such messes are another opportunity to increase their profits.