Baltimore’s port stopped all operations because 2, 000 union longshoremen walked off the job in a contract dispute, hindering imported cargo that included cars from Mazda and BMW.
The strike adds pressure to the automotive supply chain as Baltimore keeps getting auto contracts that were usually going to the east coast ports in New York and New Jersey. Mazda has already struck a five-year contract deal in August that will see as many as 65, 000 vehicles a year brought inside the US through the port from Japan, while Fiat plans to ship 30,000 cars as well.
“If an agreement can be reached within the next day or two, we don’t think there will be a huge economic impact,” Richard Scher, a spokesman for the Maryland Port Administration, said in an interview. “If it continues a week or two weeks, then you’re looking at some significant economic impacts.”
“Like everyone else who uses the Port of Baltimore we’re hoping the strike is short and that business as usual returns as soon as possible,” said Ken Sparks, a spokesman for BMW North America. “Baltimore is one of our three ports on the East Coast and of course we always have contingency plans should any location not be available for a period of time.”
The Port of Baltimore is today the 12th biggest in the US by container volume numbers, and reigns as one of the top ten employment centers in the state, according to the Maryland Port Administration’s most recent annual report.