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Some West Coast shipping ports closed, Hawaii residents stocking up

Labor issues are causing some shipping ports on the West Coast to close. 

Officials here in Hawaii said this has happened before and there is no need to panic at this time, although we found some people preparing, just in case, on Saturday.

Several viewers said there was a mad dash for toilet paper at Costco Kapolei Friday night, and rumors spread that shipments wouldn’t be arriving to Hawaii causing others to stock up on paper products on Saturday.

“I heard something from my daughter-in-law there was a rumor that there might be some kind of shipping or dock strike or stevedore strike — something like that,” said Honolulu resident Jo-Ann Shito. “I came to Costco [Iwilei] for something else, forgot about what my sister-in-law said, but then I saw people buying toilet paper, water, and I started to panic so I got my supply too.”

Many heard the same rumor, one person comparing the parking lot at Costco Waipio Saturday afternoon to Black Friday, but with plenty of essentials still in stock.

On Friday, June 2, the Pacific Maritime Association put out the following statement:

“Today, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union is staging concerted and disruptive work actions that have effectively shut down operations at some marine terminals at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The Union is also staging similar work actions that have shut down or severely impacted terminal operations at the Ports of Oakland, Tacoma, Seattle, and Hueneme.”

According to Matson Hawaii, labor slowdowns on the west coast have impacted some, but not all terminals.

A spokesperson with Matson Hawaii said only one Matson ship has been delayed [as of Saturday] and will arrive one day later than normal.

He added that one ship is discharging cargo in Honolulu on time today and one is also on schedule to arrive tomorrow.

“At this point, we know the Tacoma shipment sailed out of Tacoma a couple of hours ago that will triangulate down to Oakland and come to Hawaii, so we won’t know if that ship sails from Oakland to Hawaii until some time Monday or Tuesday,” said Hawaii Foodservice Alliance CEO Chad Buck.

A West Coast slowdown happened eight years ago, Buck and others remember at that time international shipment was impacted but shipments here continued.

“It had very little impact on Hawaii,” Buck said. “Although we were all sitting on the edge of our seats, during that time the Obama administration reached out and they worked with ILWU and people and made sure Hawaii stayed fed.”

Buck said neighbor islands will be most impacted by shipment delays, especially for fresh products which might cost much more to fly in, instead of by ship.

“A couple of days of delays won’t be so bad, but once you go into weeks and months…” Retail Merchants of Hawaii President Tina Yamaki said.

Yamaki said people panic buying ahead of time leaves minimal products on shelves for people in the future.

“We hope the shutdown will not be very long but we know because of it, probably prices will be going up,” she added.

No one knows how long the West Coast slowdown will last, but officials expect to know more by the start of the work week.

Source: KHON2