The first of 400 new dockworkers arrive this week to meet the Port of Oakland’s need for more labor, the port informed.
Additional hires will be phased into the workforce through September, the port said, to handle a buildup of ships and cargo as the port aims to accelerate cargo operations and clear out a backlog of vessels anchored in San Francisco Bay.
“We’re not operating with the speed and efficiency our customers deserve right now,” said Maritime Director John Driscoll. “Additional longshore labor is an important first step in getting back on track.”
The port said that waterfront employers and the longshore union agreed last month to beef up Oakland’s labor pool.
In addition to adding new workers, they agreed to train and promote 100 current workers. That will expand the work force available to fill positions requiring greater skill and experience.
The hiring comes as the port’s containerized cargo volume increases from the previous year’s total for three straight months.
The number of vessels arriving in Oakland has grown, too, with the port often berthing 10 ships a day.
Some ships are anchored in the Bay two days waiting for short-staffed terminals to clear vessels from berths. In addition, more auto carrier vessels and cruise ships are calling at Bay Area ports putting further strain on the longshore labor pool.
The labor shortage has lengthened the time ships spend loading and unloading by as much as a day. It has also added time to the delivery of cargo at final destination.
As informed, cargo and vessel delays should ease by the end of July. The port is in discussions with waterfront labor and management on further measures to accelerate cargo operations.