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Wine shipments from the west coast of America threatened by strikes

Published:  20 March, 2014

Wine shipments in and out of the west coast of the US could be seriously hampered by possible strike action at 29 major ports.

Any action or slowdowns could have a major impact on the usual summer rush for California's White Zinfandel if the strike is prolonged. 

The dispute is over port employees' six-year labour contract, which expires on July 1. Workers are seeking improved healthcare and welfare benefits as part of renegotiations.

The International Longshore & Warehouse Union, which represents the staff in 29 west coast ports, called a meeting with the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents the carriers and terminals, to discuss the new contracts.

If these groups fail to reach agreement for new contracts, there could be slowdowns at ports, work stoppages, or strikes throughout the west coast, which would severely impact imports and exports.

Logistics firm Global Transportations, headquartered in Washington state, has advised those who use the west coast ports to draw up contingency plans, including shipping early, routing shipments via the east coast, and prepare for delays at ports around the July deadline.

Robin Copestick, managing director of Copestick Murray, which also operates Cornerstone US Wine Imports in California, told, that any impact would "not be massive" if people know about in advance. He added that since a lot of wine from the US west coast is sold to the UK in bulk and bottled here, "they would have massive stocks".