A slowdown at the Port of Baltimore frustrated many truckers last week. Some reported arriving at the port as early as 6:30 a.m. only to drive away without a load when the port closed at 11:30 a.m. Officials said the slowdown was due to a shortage of union staff, but some believe that there is a labor dispute between management and workers. If slowdowns continue, they could affect consumers all over the Baltimore area, not to mention truckers.
The Slowdown Was Due to Either a Labor Shortage or Dispute
People familiar with the situation offered different explanations for the slowdown. The Maryland Port Authority said that the early closures and slow service were due to a labor shortage. A lack of available union workers led the port to close early. To make up for this, the port authority promised to stay open late and open on Monday, which was a federal holiday.
However, not everyone believed that a labor shortage was to blame. Some truckers said they believed the slowdown was due to a dispute between the dockworkers’ union and port management. In doing so, they invoked the ghost of the rail workers’ strike that was narrowly averted earlier this year. If this is true, then slowdowns like this one may crop up periodically for a while.
A Port Slowdown Affects All of Baltimore
Truckers expressed their frustration all throughout last week. Many spoke anonymously because they feared retribution from dockworkers whose labor they rely on. However, their concerns were clear. Without picking up loads, truckers are unable to earn their livelihoods and feed their families. It also leads to long stretches where truckers have to sit idling in the port. This will continue to increase air pollution in the area, at least until the port fully adopts electric trucks.
Of course, the effects aren’t limited to just truckers’ bottom lines. We all rely heavily on our supply chain working properly, and slowdowns like this one can cause shortages on supermarket shelves and elsewhere. This slowdown by itself is mild, and it shouldn’t cause any major disruptions. However, if they keep happening, Baltimoreans might see some shortages in their future.