Some West Coast shipping ports closed, Hawaii residents stock up

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Labor issues are causing some West Coast shipping ports to close.

Officials here in Hawaii said this has happened before and there’s no need to panic right now, although we did find someone preparing, just in case, on Saturday.

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

“I heard something from my daughter-in-law, there was a rumor that there might be some kind of shipping or port strike or stevedore strike – something like that,” Honolulu resident Jo-Ann Shito said. “I came to Costco [Iwilei] for something else, I forgot 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 many essentials still in stock.

Friday 2 In June, the Pacific Maritime Association released the following statement:

“Today, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union staged concerted and disruptive industrial action that has effectively shut down operations at some marine terminals at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The union is also staging similar industrial action that has shut down or severely affected terminal operations at the ports of Oakland, Tacoma, Seattle and Hueneme.”

According to Matson Hawaii, the decline in labor on the West Coast has affected some, but not all, terminals.

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

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

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

A decline from the West Coast occurred eight years ago, Buck and others recall at the time international shipments were affected, but shipments here continued.

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

Buck said neighboring islands would be most affected by shipping delays, especially for fresh produce that can cost much more to fly in, rather than by ship.

“A few days of delays won’t be so bad, but when you get into weeks and months…” said Hawaii Retail President Tina Yamaki.

Yamaki said people panic buying in advance leaves minimal products on the shelves for people in the future.

“We’re hoping that the shutdown won’t be very long, but we know because of that, prices are likely to go up,” she added.

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

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