The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) on Wednesday highlighted the problems retailers are facing due to ongoing truck traffic at the Port of New York/New Jersey in a letter
to port executive director Patrick J. Foye and deputy executive director Deborah L. Gramiccioni.
The letter outlines a series of initiatives to improve the current situation.
"On behalf of the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA), I write to ask for your leadership to help alleviate the ongoing productivity issues at the Port of New York/New Jersey,” said Kelly Kolb, RILA’s vice president for government affairs. “The disruptions that have been taking place at the port have had damaging consequences on the delivery of retailers’ goods … retailers are concerned that further disruptions will take place, resulting in lost sales, empty shelves and disappointed customers.”
The letter outlines four initiatives the Port Authority and other stakeholders can pursue to alleviate the backlog and restore productivity to port operations:
- Terminals should staff themselves for a complete two-shift operation, at a minimum, including weekends and holidays until on-dock, gate and rail operations return.
- Chassis inspections should be conducted in a safe and reasonable manner that does not place units “out of service” that are not an immediate hazard.
- The port should assign constant traffic oversight to mitigate the ripple effect of one terminal queue impacting others.
- Fees that are attributable to the delays caused by the port’s challenges should be suspended until the port operations can return to normal.
“RILA members applaud the port’s efforts to proactively organize a broad-based industry task force to recommend overall port improvements. However, we are concerned about the timing since the task force is not scheduled to give a report until June. Considering the current impact that the port disruption is having on retailers’ supply chains, the situation needs to be alleviated immediately,” Kolb continued.
In addition to the delays and enormous backlog of cargo, the Port of New York/New Jersey is dealing with significant challenges to its infrastructure and technology, and suffers from a lack of workers at the port and terminal to handle the amount of cargo that flows through the port each day.
“The backlog has become untenable, and retailers cannot afford to wait for improvements,” said Kolb. “Failure to move quickly to address the issue now will only see it compounded in the future. All involved parties must work together to provide immediate and direct relief.”
RILA also shared the letter with the governors of New York and New Jersey, and executives at the United States Maritime Alliance, the International Longshoremen’s Association, the New York State Motor Truck Association, the World Shipping Council, the New York Shipping Association and the New Jersey Motor Truck Association.