Iowa Public Television


End Of Lockout Not A Sign Of Dispute Resolution

posted on October 11, 2002

At the start of the week 28 percent of the nation's corn crop had been harvested. Thirty one percent of the soybean crop had left the field as well. The harvest of both crops is near the average pace, and with good weather it's expected the movement of grain and oilseed will accelerate. That movement was along with concerns about the USDA crop report was pressuring markets this week.

Also contributing to market pressure has been the labor strife on the docks.

The ten day port lockout on the West Coast is, at least temporarily, at an end. President Bush invoked his Taft-Hartley Act powers and asked a federal court in San Francisco to force the ports to open. The court granted that request and on Thursday workers began to dig through a backlog of cargo that could take months to untangle.

It is estimated the ten day work stoppage cost the U-S more than 19 billion dollars in goods and productivity. And, that week-and-a-half of idle ports is expected to affect the marketplace for some time. Shortages of Asian-produced products such as toys and shoes are anticipated to surface later this year.

The timing has been exceptionally bad for agriculture. A perishable fall harvest has been sitting on the docks for more than a week. And the situation has exacerbated the build up of beef and pork in cold storage due in part to a chicken dispute with Russia earlier this year. Asia consumes two-thirds of all U-S agricultural exports including more than half of all beef and pork sent abroad. Forty percent of all exported wheat and a quarter of all foreign bound grain leaves the U-S through West Coast ports. Corn exports, which largely move through Gulf Coast ports, have remained relatively unaffected.


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