Potential port strike could halt operations in Charleston

File Photo (WCIV)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- There's a serious port problem in the making. Ports along the East Coast, including Charleston's, are being threatened with a strike by nearly 15,000 longshoreman. According to Ken Riley, president of the International Longshoremen's Association Local 1422, Charleston port workers are in strike preparation mode. The sticking point appears to be the large containers and the payment workers get for them. Shipping companies have paid royalties to port workers based on each container in the past,{} but now want to freeze those payments. Opposing sides have until Sunday to reach a deal. Right now, one in five state jobs depend on port operations. {}Riley said top union and U.S. Maritime Alliance officials are meeting in Washington now.Meanwhile, the South Carolina Ports Authority released the following statement:Ports all along the East and Gulf Coasts -- including ours -- would be impacted by any work stoppage associated with the Master Contract between the ILA and the US Maritime Alliance.{} While the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) is not a party to this contract or these negotiations, we hope that they will be resolved favorably and that impacts on cargo flow, our customers, and our economy can be avoided. However, if there is a work stoppage, the SCPA aims to minimize impacts on our customers both before and after. We have and will take action toward this goal. Following is information on both our current preparations and our expectations. It is of course subject to change and will be updated as new information becomes available or as the situation warrants. Thank you for your business in South Carolina's ports.

The SCSPA also extended their gate hours and are opening on Saturday to minimize any potential impacts to supply chains.Extended gate hours offered at Charleston container terminals are: Fri, 12/28 - 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.Sat, 12/29 - 8 am to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

If work should stop at the port, all container vessel operations will cease, monitoring of refrigerated units will be limited but SCPA Port Police will remain on duty around the clock.{}