By Jessica Robinson, November 14, 2014, Northwest Public Radio
A slowdown at West Coast ports has started to stifle the flow of goods in and out of the Northwest. Apple, hay, and potato farmers said they’ve been having a hard time getting their harvest to foreign buyers because of port congestion. And the delays are now hitting luxury car parts.
A facility in Moses Lake, Washington, that makes carbon fiber elements for BMWs had to shut down production for three days this week.
The German company that owns the facility said the problem was at the Port of Tacoma.
The plant is part of an international network of factories behind BMW’s electric and hybrid vehicles and the workers in Moses Lake depend on a steady flow of raw materials from Japan.
But a company spokeswoman said the materials weren’t being unloaded in Tacoma. All of this is happening against a backdrop of a months long labor dispute between the dockworkers and the shipping companies. Lately there have been delays up and down the West Coast.
Longshoremen said the problem is equipment and personnel shortages. Shippers said it’s the longshoremen.
SGL Carbon Fiber Automotive in Munich said that an “immediate return” to normal operating conditions at the ports is crucial. Trade groups representing everything from egg exporters to perfume makers have urged both sides to reach a resolution before the holidays.