We’re All Connected, Commercially

Here’s the latest confirmation of the interconnectedness of the modern commercial world.

We’re waiting to get shutters to put on the windows of our new house.  The shutters were ordered weeks ago, were assembled somewhere in Asia — since you’re ordering from a company through a contractor, it’s hard to know exactly where — and are sitting on a ship outside the Port of Los Angeles.

Good news, eh?  They should be here any day, delivered by rail or long-haul truck, right?

Not so fast!  There’s a labor problem at ports up and down the west coast, related to the expiration of a contract between port operators and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union that has clogged the ports.  In response to what it considers to be unfair demands by the union, the Pacific Maritime Association closed the ports this weekend, and President Obama has dispatched the Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez, to try to personally broker a deal between union and management.

Ports are one of those crucial — but often overlooked — commerce choke points where problems can have huge repercussions.  In this case, a dispute at the Port of Los Angeles has kept eager people from Columbus, Ohio from getting shutters initially shipped from some foreign location.  I hope the Labor Secretary knows his stuff.  We want our shutters!