WASHINGTON, Oct 13 (Reuters) - President Joe Biden will meet
with retail and delivery CEOs and union heads Wednesday, as the
White House rolls out new measures to ease supply chain
bottlenecks ahead of the holiday season.
The Port of Los Angeles is going to expand its 24/7
operations to ease the shipping snarl there and at the Port of
Long Beach, a senior administration official told reporters
ahead of the meeting.
In addition, three large carriers of goods - Walmart
, FedEx and UPS - plan to step up their
round-the-clock operations to speed the shipment of goods across
the country, the official said.
Samsung, Home Depot and Target
are also increasing their work in off-peak hours, the official
"By taking these steps, they're saying to the rest of the
supply chain, you need to move too," the official said. "Let's
step it up."
White House officials, scrambling to relieve global supply
bottlenecks choking U.S. ports, highways and railways, are
warning that Americans may face higher prices and some empty
shelves this Christmas https://www.reuters.com/world/us/americans-may-not-get-some-christmas-treats-white-house-officials-warn-2021-10-12
"My administration is working around the clock to move more
goods faster and strengthen the resiliency of our supply
chains," Biden said in a tweet Wednesday.
There are 500,000 containers on ships waiting to get into
Los Angeles and Long Beach, which is the busiest U.S. port
complex, the White House said.
The White House expects the pledges from the six companies
to expand their hours will amount to 3,500 additional containers
moving each week through the end of the year.
White House spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters Biden
could not guarantee there would be no holiday disruptions.
"What we can do is use every lever at the federal government
level to reduce delays," she said.
The supply crisis is driven in part by the global COVID-19
pandemic, as sales of durable goods jumped amid worker shortages
and transportation hub slowdowns. Lower-than-expected Christmas
sales could hurt U.S. companies and pose a political risk for
The latest Reuters/Ipsos poll shows the economy continues to
be the most important issue for Democrats and Republicans alike.
Biden will meet at 1:45 p.m. ET (1745 GMT) at the White
House with executives from the two ports as well as from the
International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the Teamsters, the
AFL-CIO, Wal-Mart, FedEx, UPS, Target, the National Retail
Federation, the American Trucking Association, the Pacific
Maritime Association, and more.
He will speak on these efforts at 2:20 p.m. (1820 GMT).
Some CEOs scheduled to attend noted they are already working
around-the-clock. "Weve been running 24/7 supply chain
operations for years, including at the ports," said Target CEO
Brian Cornell in a blog post https://corporate.target.com/article/2021/10/supply-chain-update
ahead of the meeting.
Target handles about 50% of its containers that arrive in
California ports at night, he wrote, and is committed to
increasing that amount by 10% over the next 90 days.
The stop-and-start nature of the pandemic has snarled global
supply chains that are optimized for predictable, just-in-time
movements of goods.
The White House has been trying to tackle inflation-inducing
supply bottlenecks of everything from meat to semiconductors.
The administration formed a task force in June that meets weekly
and named a "bottleneck" czar, John Porcari, to push
private-sector companies to find ways to get goods flowing.
Still, thousands of shipping containers are on cargo ships
offshore waiting to be offloaded at the ports of Los Angeles and
Long Beach. Similar backlogs exist at ports in New York and
Savannah, Georgia. A shortage of warehouse workers and truck
drivers to pick up goods is partly to blame.
Moving to smooth 24/7 operations at ports, rail yards and
warehouses will require coordination and more workers.
Port and labor executives in Los Angeles say overnight truck
appointments at ports went unused in the past, for example,
because drivers cannot drop off cargo there, as the sites were
Companies like Walmart are finding workarounds by sending
containers on bulk cargo ships and offloading them on docks
commonly used for commodities.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; additional reporting by Lisa
Baertlein, Arriana McLymore and Nandita Bose; Editing by Tim
Ahmann, Heather Timmons and Lisa Shumaker)