How does the port strike actually affect us?

Port of Oakland. Photo by Mark Hogan/ Creative Commons
Port of Oakland. Photo by Mark Hogan/ Creative Commons

If you’ve been somewhat paying attention to the news, you know that the west coast ports, yes even the one in Oakland, are currently on strike and it doesn’t seem likely that it will end anytime soon. Currently, the ports are congested with backed up vessels waiting to be unloaded and taken to their final destination, but for nine long months, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents 20,000 workers, and the Pacific Maritime Association have been at war over contract disputes. If an agreement is not reached, the ports could completely shut down.

So why should you care about this? Really, why does it matter to you if a bunch of people are on strike? Well this strike is actually pretty significant and can begin to affect us all in a major way. The ports are where we receive our goods, like spices, clothes, and boxes that store your food, basically anything that is not manufactured in the United States is coming by boat to these various west coast ports and then put onto our shelves. You know that the goods we receive from Asia, like video games, have been affected by 70 percent – yep, this strike is making those precious video games hard to obtain.

With the ports on strike, we could be looking at prices of our favorite things skyrocketing. With not being able to receive goods from other countries, that means we are in limited supply here. So places will either just run out of what they are selling, or have to up-charge what they have to make a profit since they have to buy the goods from a United States based company at a much higher cost then an oversees manufacturer.

Here is a list of just some things that aren’t manufactured here in the United States:

  • Converse sneakers
  • Levi jeans
  • Televisions
  • Barbies
  • iPads
  • Spices
  • Video Games
  • American Flags (that’s right – we don’t even make our own flag)

No one knows when the strike will end and if it will end in a good way. All I know is I won’t take my video games and salt for granted anymore. You never know how precious something is until you can’t get it off a truck or boat sitting in the middle of the ocean. #soclosebutsofaraway

***UPDATE: As of 7p.m. Friday night it looks like the ports have reached a five year agreement. Hopefully, the ports will begin to open but who knows how long it will take for the back up trucks and vessels to unload.