Reps. Josh Gottheimer and Donald Payne are urging steps to move goods from stalled container ships to store shelves in time for the holiday season.
Gottheimer and Payne held an Oct. 12 press conference at the Port of Newark to highlight what Gottheimer described as “a shipping and supply chain crisis.” Gottheimer urged, among other steps, increased Congressional committee oversight to probe what he described as “the continued spike” in global shipping prices and potential collusion in the marketplace.
“We need to fix this shipping crisis now—before the holidays because the last thing we need is a giant piece of coal in America’s Christmas stocking,” he said.
Likewise, Payne said: “I am outraged to hear that the cost to move a shipping container has risen from $1,000 before the pandemic to more than $22,000 today. We will not tolerate any arbitrary price increases that are not directly related to legitimate market forces.”
White House Efforts
Gottheimer and Payne’s words came a day before President Joe Biden announced that two West Coast ports—the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach—were expanding to 24-7, round-the-clock operations to unload an estimated 500,000 containers sitting on cargo ships offshore.
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Walmart and Target additionally are stepping up operations, according to a White House release. Target has committed to increase by 10% the amount of containers it moves at night over the next 90 days to ease congestion at the ports, and Walmart, the largest U.S. retailer, has committed to increase its use of night-time hours significantly “and projects they could increase throughput by as much as 50% over the next several weeks.”
FedEx and UPS additionally have committed to significant increases in the amount of goods they move at night, President Biden said in an Oct. 13 speech.
“Today’s announcement has the potential to be a game changer,” the President stated. “I say potential because all of these goods won’t move by themselves. For the positive impact to be felt all across the country…we need major retailers who order the goods and the freight movers who take the goods from ships to factories and to stores to step up as well.”
As the White House sought to highlight positive steps aimed at speeding the movement of goods to store shelves, the Labor Department announced that those goods are costing more. September’s consumer price index—a measurement of what consumers pay for products and services, increased by 5.4% from a year ago. The 5.4% hike was the highest in 13 years.
Port of Newark Event
Reps. Gottheimer and Payne appeared Oct. 12 at the Port of Newark along with Sam Ruda, the director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Dan Maffei; and Matt Feiner, president and CEO of SG Companies, a Hackensack-based footwear and apparel company.
“Shipping container costs have increased ten times since the start of COVID, there are major delays, and we are having trouble getting goods to America, from ventilators to shoes to clothing and toys, and the price of nearly everything we import is through the roof,” said Gottheimer who represents New Jersey’s 5th Congressional district.
Frustration over the jump in cost to move shipping containers was a recurring theme at the press event, as was the lengthy delays at West Coast ports where containers are said to be sitting for as long as two weeks before goods get unloaded.
“The situation at Newark is not nearly as large as the problems faced on the West Coast and that is due to the great work of Port Authority workers,” Payne said. “We are doing everything we can to minimize these issues as we approach the holiday season.”
‘Incredibly Tough Times’
Hackensack-based SG Companies, which according to Feiner employs some 100 people in North Jersey, has felt the sting of recent supply chain disruptions.
“This is incredibly tough times for us. We’re in supply chain hell almost every day and it’s really a fight. A lot of it really does stem from these ocean freight carriers charging exorbitant costs and what feels like price gouging to us,” Feiner said at the press conference.
Gottheimer urged additional measures to smooth out current supply chain disruptions, including the Federal Maritime Commission “and all relevant authorities” to investigate the practices of major ocean carriers “and assess if there is any collusion or anti-competitive practices.”
Additionally, Gottheimer wants the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to modernize how it tracks and clears ship traffic. “Currently, outdated processes are helping contribute to the backlog,” he said.
(this story/news/article has not been edited by PostX News staff and is published from a syndicated feed)