White House announces plan to ease cargo backup at Port of Los Angeles

In an effort to reduce the backlog of cargo ships floating in the Pacific, the White House has reached an agreement nearly doubling the number of hours cargo is transferred at the Port of Los Angeles.

The president announced Wednesday that the Port of Los Angeles will begin to operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It’s part of a push from the White House to clear supply chain disruptions threatening the holiday shopping season and slowing the nation's economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

President Biden met with leaders from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union to discuss the challenges facing the largest ports in all of North America.

The Port of Los Angeles spans over 7,500 acres and contains 25 separate cargo terminals. In addition, the 3,200-acre Port of Long Beach has been operating 24 hours a day for the past three weeks. Combined, the two ports handle nearly half of all cargo entering the United States.

RELATED: Port of LA to become 24/7 operation to ease shipping backlog: White House

Congestion at the ports has been building for months due to pandemic-era labor shortages and a bigger shift in the online marketplace. Ships are waiting an average of 6 days compared to the usual two-day average, according to Port of Los Angeles officials. 

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"Everywhere I go I hear there’s a shortage and they need more drivers," said truck driver Tramell Love. 

Love has been transporting shipping containers to and from the port for over six months.  

"There aren’t enough workers and they don’t pay enough. It’s backed everything up and slowed everything down," he added.

"The demand for truck drivers right now is absolutely breathtaking. There are estimates out there there’s a need for at least 60,000 new truck drivers on the road," said Bailey Wood, CEO of the Commercial Vehicle Training Association.

White House officials hope that by cranking up operations at the port to 24 hours a day and seven days a week, it will help clear shipping delays and supply bottlenecks ahead of the busiest shipping season of the year.

The goal of the proposed plan being pushed by the White House is to process and transfer 3,500 additional shipping containers during the night each week.  Walmart, UPS, Samsung, Target and the Home Depot are among the nations busiest carriers joining the push to expand operations. 

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