Longshore slowdown at the Port of Tacoma continues

The slowdown at the Port of Tacoma continued Friday.

“We are still experiencing slower productivity than normal,” said Tara Mattina, port spokeswoman, on Friday afternoon.

The slowdown by Longshoremen has extended from the Ports of Tacoma and Seattle to the California Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The National Retail Federation and other groups from the manufacturing, agricultural and retail sectors have asked President Barack Obama to intervene in a dispute over working conditions.

Mattina was optimistic Friday, saying that “in the past week what we’ve seen is employers firing (longshore) crews at breaks or at lunch. Today, the workers continue to work.”

According to U.S. trade data, cargo worth $892 billion crossed the docks from San Diego to Seattle in 2013, accounting for much of the trade with Asia. A lockout in 2002 cost the economy billions of dollars.

The largest stores already have their cargo or, anticipating problems like those now materializing, routed goods to ports on the East Coast, said Frank Layo, a supply-chain expert at the management consultancy Kurt Salmon. But smaller importers, particularly of toys and fashion, are vulnerable, he said.

“There’s a building backlog of boats that can’t pull up to a berth,” Layo noted.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.