Automakers are forming contingency plans for potential work stoppages at West Coast ports even as talks continue between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union to replace an expired labor contract.
The ports, especially those in Long Beach and Los Angeles, are crucial shipping hubs for the U.S. auto industry.
The giant combined port complex at San Pedro Bay accounted for $19.1 billion in automotive imports — including passenger cars, trucks, buses, parts and accessories last year, according to an analysis by KPMG, the international accounting and consulting firm.
Import volumes are running another 11 percent higher through May when compared with the same period a year earlier, KPMG said.
Most imports are from Asian brands. But parts and accessories, including what's needed for North American assembly plants, made up almost $9 billion in imports. That represents a potential vulnerability to domestic light-vehicle production, said Gary Silberg, KPMG's global head of automotive.
Combined, the 29 ports covered by the contract accounted for 41 percent of the total U.S. maritime imports for assembled passenger vehicles during the 12 months ended in June, according to Alix Partners, another consulting firm.
Although the Long Beach/Los Angeles port complex accounted for the largest portion, other significant shipping hubs include Port Hueneme near Oxnard, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; and Benicia, Calif.