The frontline workers of the shipping industry are at the nub of the supply chain and if longshore workers do not unload containers of food, medical supply, goods, and commodities from ships arriving at the ports, grocery shelves will empty out, hospitals and pharmacies will run of medicine and PPE supplies, stores will have no goods to sell, and all of them will not be able to restock. The flow of goods through the ports is vital to all communities and the nation.
We must realize that workers at the port are at high risk of Covid-19 working extra hours every day moving essential supplies off ships to trucks and trains. Container terminal operators are going through substantial measures to keep their workers safe and protected and the terminals uninterrupted. Working in small spaces make them susceptible to coronavirus.
The International Longshore Workers Union reports nearly 700 dockworkers tested positive and if more become infected, port officials worry the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach could slow down movement and the multibillion-dollar industry. We may face terminal shutdowns with labor shortages if no immediate action is taken to vaccinate 15,000 Southern California’s dockworkers.
According to the ports, pandemic supply imports flow through the Los Angeles and Long Beach complex and since the beginning of the pandemic port officials have worked every way possible to help with vaccinating their workers. The county has yet to receive enough doses to meet the demands now and forward, and the next phase of vaccinations will not come until early February for the medical and front -line workers who have not been vaccinated. The dockworkers should be next in line for vaccines.
So far, a report from Longshore workers shows infections with 694 dockworkers with Covid-19 as of Jan 17 and 12 have died. There are 12 terminals that reported an outbreak since the pandemic began. There are questions on the accuracy of data on worker infections and the maritime association mentions probability of non-reporting present and asks all ports to report on an ongoing basis.
Longshore workers are overlooked, and we could be facing a disaster affecting supply chain that will heavily impact economies. Port directors do not want to wait until it is too late, and the port terminals will have to shut down.
All Americans count on the workforce to being healthy to move cargo and to unload lifesaving medical supplies to keep our economy going.